Building with Pop Cans

One of our very first introductions into the world of sustainably built and functioning houses was in Colorado where we attended a presentation by Michael Reynolds, an experimental architect/builder from New Mexico.  Michael is well known for his Earthship buildings, which are built with recycled materials and designed with self- sufficient systems of water, heat, cooling, and light.  They are like permaculture houses, where each aspect of design is multi-functional and supportive to other systems.  These are not high-tech modern houses with computerized regulators though- they are designed with the observations and functions of nature, such as passive solar, complete water systems from rain to grey water recycling and irrigation within the house, sewage treatment, natural light, and air flow circulation that follows natural patterns.  Michael had also taken the important step of building these houses with materials that would otherwise become garbage, like car tires, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans, among other things.  He has taken these ideas and travelled to impoverished countries, demonstrating the possibilities of creating cool, water capturing, ventilated houses for those in hot countries with no electricity and clean water, built with free materials from overflowing garbage dumps.  Despite much conflict with the states’ building industry on the parliamentary level, Michael has continued to fight with a  passion to build healthy, non-dependent homes that span classes and climates.  An awesome documentary called Garbage Warrior follows Michael through his dreams and his journeys.  Check out amazingly beautiful houses and innovative design principles at this site, Earthship Biotecture Green Buildings,

Colin’s design of the bathroom has a round shower space situated almost in the middle of the house, with a tight curve that would be difficult to frame out of wood.  So we used Michael Reynolds’ technique of creating an interior wall out of pop cans, mortared together like bricks in concrete, which made the curve easy to achieve.  Every once in awhile we placed two glass bottle ends taped together into the row to let extra light in, since there are no windows at all in the bathroom.  We had collected a bunch of square, blue gin bottles from the recycling depot here, and instead of trying to cut them we placed them upright around the top, which ended up giving our round wall a bit of a castle turret look.  We placed the height of the wall at just over 6 feet high, so more light can come in over the top.  Colin built a wood cap that sits an inch wider than the wall so we can put plants up there, and the  outside of the wall got a layer of clay plaster, and will be finished with the same earth plaster that the rest of the walls will have.  On the inside, Colin plans to build a small seat in the corner out of cans as well, and we will then coat the whole inside with red pigmented concrete, leaving the glass bottles exposed and glowing.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. pickyforwords
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 00:23:47

    Wow, this is really great. I love sustainable living! I was homeschooled myself so I appreciate what you are doing. Love your blog!


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