The first of an entire village of plastic bottle homes is being constructed on Isla Colón in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. By recycling plastic bottles for use as insulation in what will eventually be 120 houses, Plastic Bottle Village founder Robert Bezeau is helping to preserve the island's luscious surroundings and diverting toxic materials from the landfill. But plastic offers other surprising benefits as well.
Each home will comprise a steel cage full of recycled plastic bottles that are then covered in a concrete mix. While steel and concrete are not necessarily the most beneficial materials, the first two-bedroom home recycled a staggering 10,000 plastic bottles, offering significant environmental benefits – including interior temperatures that are 17 degrees Celsius cooler than outside. Consulting with local architects, the group designed three different models that have sufficient flex to be earthquake-resistant, though custom designs are also welcome. Each home will be delivered complete with plumbing and electricity, along with standard doors and windows.
According to Bezeau and his team, “The re-use of its core materials allows the Plastic Bottle Village to build homes in a fraction of the time and at a huge savings in the cost of re-construction, compared to the traditional materials used locally.”
The Village will be built in three phases on 83 acres of pristine land with hilltops, valleys and fresh water streams – in addition to a variety of wildlife and indigenous vegetation. When complete, it will comprise 120 homes and lots, as well as a small boutique lodge with a community garden. It will also include green zones and mini parks ideal for yoga and other outdoor activities.
When Bezeau first moved to Panama, he established a plastic recycling service to address the enormous challenges Boca Del Toro faces with unmanaged waste. In the process, he collected thousands of plastic bottles. The idea to use them as insulation for housing came to him in a dream. Since developing the Plastic Bottle Village concept, he has also committed to creating an educational facility through which he can teach others to implement his unique building technique.
“This style of home building takes a green approach and the owners of the properties will share a conscious, earth friendly shift in their way of living,” according to Bezeau. “We will be living inside what we have consumed and thrown away, and will re-construct those materials into modern, stylish, and quality built residencies.”