Building Homes with Plastic Bottles

Village – Bainara, Hingalgunj (Sunderbans)

The project was undertaken by Katakhali Swapnopuron Welfare Society
Project Outreach partnered by allaboutarchitecture
Design partnered by Koushik Chatterjee.

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Activity Plan
Version.02 – 23 March 2021

Participants: Students of Architecture, Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Interior Design, and Art.
The number of participants – 50 students per day per site; we have two sites to begin with simultaneously.
Activity schedule – 8 hours per day for five weeks.
Location: Village Bainara, North Twenty Four Parganas, West Bengal 22°26’54.6″ N 88°54’17.7″ E

Conducted by: Swapnopuron Welfare society in association with residents of Bainara.
Starts on – May 3, 2021, Monday and Finishes on – June 6, 2021, Sunday.
Objective: Aims to make students aware of the alternative construction method using plastic bottles instead of regular bricks and to prepare and use traditional lime mortar for construction and terrace waterproofing.
This module is designed to provide hands-on experience about the complete life cycle of building a house.

Overview: Building with (glass) bottle dates back to 1905, when Mr Tom Kelly, at the age of 76, constructed the first bottle structure out of 30,000 beer bottles in Rhyolite, Nevada.
In 1960, Heineken’s CEO proposed to manufacture rectangular beer bottles so that they can serve as bricks when finished. Named as Heineken World bottle or WOBO, designed by Dutch architect John Habreken, the idea failed to gain popularity.
In 2005, Pura Vida’s mission was to promote environmental consciousness among the indigenous villages of Guatemala. They did this in a number of ways, one of which was through building with plastic bottles that they referred to as an ‘Eco-block’.

Here in Bainara, we intend to build two single-story houses covering 842 square feet each in the first phase.

A stepped foundation 3 feet deep will stand as the base of a 4 feet plinth holding a 10 feet high wall. The wall thickness will be finished at 16 inches considering 1.5-inch plaster on both sides using 1-litre water bottles, 13 inches in height. This is going to be a load-bearing structure. Hence, we must use the same sized bottles to maintain uniformity and proper load distribution throughout the wall.

Lime mortar and lime plaster have been chosen considering their water-resistant property and economical compared to cement. Fine red brick dust, commonly known as Surkhi or a black coal powder known as Ghyash, will be used instead of sand. Mixed in the ratio of 1:3 (Lime: Surkhi/Ghyash), this is a time-tested age-old recipe common to this region in vogue even a few decades back until gradually, cement turned out to be the people’s choice.

The roof will be of corrugated tin, resting flat on a wooden truss made from a Eucalyptus tree. The tin sheet will be firmly secured with the rigid members with nuts and bolts covered with an added top layer of lime mortar gently beaten to settle down to become a water-resistant and good thermal insulator. A flat roof will also mean that it would be the least hazardous when exposed to high wind load.

THE ASSIGNMENT

1) Making bricks out of plastic bottles
2) Site marking
3) Excavating foundation trench
4) Laying the foundation
5) Erection of walls and insertion of door and window frames and ventilators
6) Tin roof fabrication on a wooden structure
7) Preparation and application of water-repelling lime plaster on tinned roof
8) Preparation and application of traditional lime plaster on exterior and interior walls
9) Fixing of door and window shutters, knobs, and latch
10) Base preparation and laying the floor finish
11) Laying electrical cable and installing light fixture
12) Preparation and application of traditional limewash on walls
13) Site cleaning
14) Documentation of the entire episode – field reports and notes, still and video recording of activities and interviews

The outcome should be –

I. A handbook comprising of textual narrations with supportive photographs.
II. A time-lapse film from start to end of the project with relevant interviews inserted.

Tip for extra milers:

Mingle with the local people, share experiences and find a practical way to spread awareness about alternative construction methods at an individual and mass level.
A staircase has been included to add up more rooms on the upper floor if needed in the future. Till then, it will remain as a fully accessible terrace of this single-story house.
Students will get the opportunity to join hands with grass-root operatives working with Swapnopuron, local masons, and one Master mason conversant in traditional construction methods during construction.

Assesment Criteria

1) Punctuality
2) Ability to understand and follow assignments and/or instructions
3) Enthusiasm
4) Teamwork
5) Proactiveness
6) Cleanliness
7) Quantum and depth of the daily report
8) Quality of presentation
9) Timely submission
10) Extra miler
11) Leadership quality

Week 1:

Provide an overview of the project and its guidelines, assign tasks and responsibilities, clarify expectations, explain assessment criteria and start with the project
1) Create bricks from plastic bottles
2) Site marking
3) Excavating foundation trench
4) Laying the foundation
5) Maintain cleanliness of the site
6) Document the proceeding of the project
7) Submit daily report

Week 2:

Assess the level of progress of the past week, explain the following week’s plan of action, feedback and question-answer session
1) Create bricks from plastic bottles.
2) Erection of walls.
3) Maintain cleanliness of the site.
4) Document the proceeding of the project.
5) Submit daily report.

Week 3:

Assess the level of progress of the past week, explain the following week’s plan of action, feedback and question-answer session
1) Create bricks from plastic bottles
2) Erection of walls and insertion of door and window frames and ventilators
3) Maintain cleanliness of the site
4) Document the proceeding of the project
5) Submit daily report

Week 4:

Assess the level of progress of the past week, explain the following week’s plan of action, feedback and question-answer session
1) Create bricks from plastic bottles
2) Roof fabrication on a wooden structure
3) Preparation and application of water-repelling lime plaster on tinned roof
4) Preparation and application of traditional lime plaster on exterior and interior walls
5) Fixing of door and window shutters, knobs and latch
6) Base preparation for the floor finish
7) Maintain cleanliness of the site
8) Document the proceeding of the project
9) Submit daily report

Week 5:

Assess the level of progress of the past week, explain the following week’s plan of action, feedback and question-answer session
1) Application of water-repelling lime plaster on exterior walls
2) Laying the floor finish
3) Laying electrical cable and installing light fixture
4) Preparation and application of the traditional limewash on walls
5) Maintain cleanliness of the site
6) Document the proceeding of the project
7) Collate a complete set of documents and submit the final report

Learning Outcomes

LO1 – Gain an overview of construction with plastic bottles
LO2 – Identify the factors responsible for successful teamwork
LO3 – Learn project implementation
LO4 – Learn to meet deadlines consistently, at an individual and team level
LO5 – Learn about alternative building materials like lime, bamboo and plastic bottles
LO6 – Learn to create systematic documentation and report
LO7 – Develop understanding with people from different backgrounds and cultures

Assessment Criteria

Pass: LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 & LO7 – Submission of complete work in proper format + 75% Attendance
Merit: LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 & LO7 – On-time submission of complete work in proper format + 85% Attendance
Distinction: LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 & LO7 – On-time submission of complete work in proper format + Excellent in perseverance + Excellent in creative solution + Excellent team worker + 90% Attendance

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