I’ve known about bottle walls for a number of years, but I didn’t pay much attention because most bottle walls use a lot of cement and because earthbag walls are superior in a number of ways. Up until today I favored bottle walls primarily for decoration. (See Bottle Walls and Bottle Wall Details.)
My opinion changed today when Kelly published the blog post Bottle Walls in Africa. Zafra, one of our readers, left a comment about interior bottle walls at Project Somos. Interior walls? H-m-m-m. I found the photo they were referring to, and then I set out to refine the process and make the drawing shown above. Consider it a work in progress. I would love to hear of ways to improve the idea.
Plastic bottle walls are really catching on. Interior plastic bottle walls are especially appealing and a good match-up with earthbag exterior walls. Benefits include cleaning up the community, mass involvement versus just a few construction workers, community ownership, education, providing much needed homes and schools and other structures. The links below show lots of great examples of bottle wall structures. The next section explains the building process for interior bottle walls.
Bottle Wall Construction ‘How-to’ [Based on a list by Laura Kutner, Peace Corps/Guatemala Source: www.peacecorps.gov I’ve edited the process to explain how to make interior bottle walls.]
1. Make sure your community is involved and that you have a safe/approved location to build.
2. Make sure you have a budget and enough funding.
3. Collect plastic bottles and lots of inorganic trash such as plastic bags. Then stuff bottles with inorganic trash. Each bottle and all of the stuffing material has to be clean (rinsed in water) and dried. If anything is wet or dirty it will become moldy and start to smell. Organic trash, such as paper, cardboard, dirt, and rocks, cannot be used.
4. Build a foundation and wall frame with columns and horizontal members made of wood, bamboo, metal or concrete. Finish the roof before proceeding.
5. Add support rods (rebar, thin bamboo, saplings, dowels, etc.) on one side of the wall frame. Then add chicken wire or fishing net on one side of the frame. Work on the other side in sections, putting in the bottles and securing them tightly to the mesh with twine.
6. Continue section by section, until bottles are placed, then stuff all empty leftover spaces with inorganic trash.
7. Add support rods and mesh on the second side of the frame.
8. Test the plaster mixture to make sure it sticks. Cement, lime or earthen plaster will all work. Then apply the first layer of plaster. (You could plaster over the frame if it is unattractive or if you want uninterrupted plastered walls. However, I like the appearance of exposed wood and bamboo frames, so I suggest plastering just the bottle wall sections. This process will be easier if the frame is a little wider than the bottles – say 1” extra each side. In this example, the frame is 6” and the bottles are 4”.)
8. When the plaster dries, apply a second layer.
9. Finish with a third layer then lay the flooring.
10. Inaugurate and celebrate!