Buildings and houses constructed out of recycled plastic bottles have been around almost as long as the plastic bottle itself. Bottles are lightweight, easy to handle, and generally cost nothing. But variations in size, shape, and quality of the bottles have only allowed this construction technique to go so far.
Founder and managing director of Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development LTD Arthur Huang, has decided to push the envelope when it comes to plastic technology. His 9-story Eco ARK pavilion, located in Taipei, Taiwan, is constructed entirely from 2 liter plastic PET bottles. These 1.5 million bottles, or POLLI-Bricks, are interlocking polygonal forms derived from recycled plastic with a silicone coating to help them bond together. They are structurally sound and can withstand earthquakes and typhoons. The use of these recycled bottles is also very inexpensive and reduces construction costs by as much as 30% of a building of the same size. The Building is also completely deconstructable and recyclable and can be taken apart and move to a different location if need be.
The POLLI-Bricks, which were designed and developed by Huang, can be blow molded on site from shredded pieces of PET delivered to the site by the truckload. This reduced shipping costs by a huge margin. Once formed, the bottles are stacked in rectangular panels sandwiched between a metal mesh and a transparent sheet of plastic. The caps are then screwed on the bottles attaching them to the sheets. Air is also trapped in the bottles making them very good for insulating. Since the bottles are clear plastic, they allow lots of light through, but can also be strung with small LED bulbs to illuminate the interior and exterior.
Fortunately, this technology can be reproduced just about anywhere, and is especially useful in under-developed countries where resources are limited and plastic is in abundance. Different colors, and sizes of the bottles can be used for the various programmatic needs of a structure, and this system may actually be more eco-friendly than many building techniques.