How To Build a Bottle School

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Building a bottle school is not very different from building a regular school using post and beam construction. The key differences are:
 
  1.  A lot of plastic bottles and trash need to be collected in order to make sufficient “eco- bricks”, which will be used in place of cinder- blocks or bricks.
  2.  You need to insert pins (short pieces of rebar) into the columns and beams before the concrete sets, and then you attach chicken wire to the pins.
  3. Tie eco-bricks to the chicken wire, row by row, and then stretch another layer of chicken wire over the other side of the eco- bricks.
  4. Add a cement stucco finish so that from the outside, you can’t even see the bottles.

The first thing you need to do, is collect enough bottles and trash. This takes a community effort, so if your community is not behind this idea, it’s not going to work. It might take some time for people to understand the idea of building a school out of trash; be patient.

Once you have enough eco-bricks (bottles stuffed with trash) and you have suitable land, funding, community buy-in, masons and materials, the remainder of the process is very similar to building a regular building using post and beam construction – there are just a few differences.

The first difference is that you need to insert pins into the columns and beams before the concrete dries. The reason for the pins is so that you can tie the chicken wire to them. To make the bottle-walls, stretch a length of chicken wire tightly between two columns, and attach it securely to the pins on the frame of the building.

Then, tie upright eco-bricks to the chicken wire in rows, again making sure to keep the bottles tightly secured to the chicken wire. Once all the bottles are in the wall, stretch another layer of chicken wire over the other side of the bottles, sandwiching the bottles in between the chicken wire. Fill any gaps between the bottles with more inorganic trash.

Finally, apply three layers of cement stucco (about 1 inch (2.5cm) in total) on both sides of the bottle-walls. Make the final layer a smoother layer to present an attractive finish, and paint it


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6 Responses to How To Build a Bottle School

  1. What wonderful work your organization is doing. Awesome!!! I will be retiring from my construction director’s position with a global engineering firm in August and would love to volunteer, if needed.

    I have a passion for Latin America and its people.

    Kind Regards,
    Wayne Davey
    Calgary, Alberta
    Canada

  2. Could I please have a copy of the bootle school manual: How to build a bottle school. I am very intrigued by this idea and was wondering about adapting this to combat homelessness here in the US. This year I supported (monetary donation) one of my work colleagues in this volunteer endeavor. He leaves tonight (6/10/15) for Guatemala.

    • Hello and thanks so much for your questions. We use regular plastic string and the pins are 1/4″ rebar. It’s bent in an “L” shape and it must be in position before pouring the cement for columns and intermediate beams. Please let me know if I can clarify anything else. Hugs, Kara

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