CRAZY WEDNESDAY: HOME GREEN HOME

This wonderful house is in Kragujevac, Serbia, 130km south of the capital Belgrade. It is made out of about 14,000 plastic bottles, and was designed and built by retired Professor Tomislav Radovanovic. Having come up with the idea whilst still working, the crafty academic presented the idea to his students in a lecture about alternative construction methods, who collected the bottles for him from the surrounding countryside. Collecting the bottles took about five years, but Radovanovic hopes he will get into the Guinness Book of World Records. Although it has a concrete foundation, the rest of the 60 square metre home is made entirely from bottle, even the windows. He said of his unusual retirement home, “The house is comfortable and it practically cost me nothing”.

The most surprising thing is that bottle wall construction is not new, as this Wikipedia article demonstrates. In fact, what is thought to have been the first bottle house was built in 1902 by William F. Peck, in Tonopah, North Virginia. Sadly demolished in the 1980s, Peck used 10,000 Jhostetter’s Stomach Bitters bottles. Hopefully he didn’t have to consume the contents first, which were 90% alcohol and 10% opium, or he might not have had long to enjoy his house.

Also detailed in the article is the wonderful Heineken World Bottle (WOBO) – an idea incredibly far ahead of its time. When Alfred Heineken visited the Caribbean island Curacao, he was shocked by bottles littering the shore, as there was no facility to return them for recycling. At the same time he was moved by the lack of affordable housing on the island. On return, he commissioned a Dutch architect, John Habraken to design what he “a brick that holds beer.” The culmination of three years of research, the WOBO was launched in 1963, specifically designed to interlock and be bonded with mortar as a building material. It came in two sizes, so that layers of bottles could be bonded in the same way as brickwork. Sadly, only two WOBO structures exist today, both on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk, near Amsterdam. Very few of the bottles still exist, and are highly sought after by collectors.

As someone who remembers a childhood of returning glass drinks bottles to the corner shop, and getting a 10p return deposit reward, I say, “Bring back the WOBO!”. These beautiful green bottles were so beautifully designed and they are brilliantly easy to stack in transit. The only problem is, they are so gorgeous, unless they were very common, I might not want to take them back.

Amanda

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