Stuff I Do

Experiences and Encounters in Pune

The ‘Bottle Bottle’ Man Will Help!

Posted by Sanskriti on August 11, 2009

Sourabh (or Soar Hub as his email id says) will help create a sorting shed for dry waste out of waste materials. Soar Hub is the Bottle Bottle man – an architect and a teacher at Aman Setu school, experimenting with various alternative materials and methods for creating a variety of spaces. See this video for examples of bottle-bottle architecture (and search for antiismistix on YouTube for more of where that came from).

Today we met to work out how the SWACH waste collector ladies would use the space, what we would construct the shed out of and how we will use the swine flu break to get students to volunteer. This last idea seems to have fallen flat on its face, but we are proceeding with collecting waste materials.

We plan to collect one litre soft drink bottles, torn cement bags, old tyres as the main materials. Some embellishment will be done with coloured glass.

The specifications for the design are:

  • About 12 sq meters of work space
  • Ventilation and shade
  • Non inflammable construction materials (the PET bottles will be filled with mud, just in case a question arose in your mind) – coz certain frustrated beings have been known to set fire to compost pits (which burned coz they were made of fibre glass)
  • A shelf or half mala to store packaged material
  • One wall should be a half-wall so that people can see the activity that takes place inside
  • All (or most) material used should be ‘waste materials’

So, hopefully we will gather the construction materials over the next few days, and build the sorting shed very soon. Watch this space!


10 Responses to “The ‘Bottle Bottle’ Man Will Help!”

  1. Prakriti said


  2. Civicus said

    I am curious and confused:

    1. Are you saying that PET is non-inflammable or that filling the bottles with mud makes them fire retardant?

    2. I haven’t watched the video as yet, so what is the material in the interstices between the bottles? It looks like cement mortar, and intuitively I don’t see that bonding with PET.

    As a matter of fact, if Soar Hub and and the rest of you feel adventurous enough to experiment, try a roof slab structure (possible, I think, for a 12 sq.m. space) using split bamboo for the tensile members and empty pet bottles for the compressive zone of the slab, held in place by concrete. And the lower, tensile surface of the slab, comprising bamboo strips, need not have any concrete cover, as bamboo, unlike steel, is not vulnerable to deterioration by rusting or other similar degrading action.

    Of course a slab like this will not be much good for live loads, but at the scale you mention (and if the loft or shelf is going to hold only empty PET bottles) it is worth trying out.

  3. Sanskriti said

    Hi Civicus,

    I think what you suggest for the roof is what Soar Hub plans. One of the YouTube vids show something like that.

    And yes, we are hoping that filling the PET bottle with mud may make them less flammable. May be the mud falling out of burnt bottles would smother the fire? May be we should experiment with trying to burn a few mud filled bottles.


  4. Lakshmi said

    one bharati pitre does art out of waste. she is the one that has done the bollywood bottles at roheena’s and a lot of papier mache sculptures. she completely and only works with waste. i have her contacts and i can pass on to you. i have also spoken to her about you and she will be happy to meet. in fact she has invited us to her studio.

    • Sanskriti said

      Hi L

      Saw some of her work at Atelier last Sunday. Its lovely! Yes lets visit her studio and meet her some time together.


  5. Sourabh said

    Since Sansytai refused to pass messages, I shall reply myself 🙂

    – The pet bottles can be left exposed or can be covered with cob or any other suitable material. If covered, no fire issues. If not, since they are filled with mud, in case of a fire, the plastic shall give way to the ‘fire douser’ within.

    – The material in the video was cement mortar. And the bonding it provides is fine for small structures, I tried jumping on it too. I think I also have some pictures of a slum resettlement somewhere in South America where entire houses were built out of the same. Also google for earthships.

    – The Filler slab you describe may not be necessary for a shed of this scale. Instead, what we are planning to do is make pseudo country tiles by chopping the bottles. Have tried it on small panels, works nicely. Although needs some cover material to resist flying away with the wind.


    • Civicus said

      Thanks, soar.hub!

      I do understand the slab will not be necessary in this case, but in a situation where you do need a proper roof, it would considrably reduce deadweight if the compressive zones of the slab were to comprise just empty bottles, with bamboo taking up tension and the cob or whatever holding the bottles in place together with the tensile members. And maybe you would need a thickish coat of cob on the underside to protect both the bamboo and the bottles from possible fire.

      Please pass on my regards to Sansytai 😀

  6. Madhu said

    This looks great, congrats!

    Sansy, Will pass on any bottles we have at home, and will keep an eye out to collect as well. Is there a timeframe within which you need the bottles? Or is it an ongoing effort?


  7. Alka Kapoor said


    This sounds very interesting. Is there a time frame you are looking at

    NIBM Road Residents Forum

    • Sanskriti said

      Thanks! Bottles for this particular shed needed today and in the next 2-3 days. Not a continuously ongoing effort though we do have plans for a couple more sorting sheds and a fence around a well.

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