This is a loose re-telling of the real life events of a bottle, that turned into a wall. REAL LOOSE.HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The journey began with the simple idea of collecting used old glass bottles and turning them into economical building materials.
IN THE LABORATORY
Several combinations of soil, quarry dust, hay and lime were tried and tested until we found our “PERFECT MIX”. Bear in mind that every element in this step can be tweaked, depending on the site context, soil condition and judgement.
Listed below are our trials –
SCRUB IN, SCRUB OUT
We collected glass bottles of various colors and sizes, to give our wall a unique pattern. The stains from the outside and inside were removed, by soaking the bottles in water and the labels were scrubbed away.
‘The cleaner the bottles got, the messier we found ourselves to be.’
PLAN AN ARRANGEMENT
A proper arrangement of bottles was planned in advance. This is especially important, if the bottles are of different sizes and shapes. How we place the bottles is crucial to the look, overall design and strength.
This is the arrangement we went with –
DOWN TO (MESSY) BUSINESS
The excavated soil is now sieved on a 45 degree sieve-mesh.
The “PERFECT MIX” (refer- In the laboratory) is prepared and stepped on continually. This helps the strength of the mix (and is whole lot of fun to do).
Also, we made sure to test the mix again, before building the wall. This is done by making a ball of the mix and checking if it holds its shape.
First, a layer of the cob mix is laid, forming the base. We kept a few balls of cob handy before starting out. The cob layer should be nicely beaten for it to gain strength and prevent cracks. Over this layer, the bottles are placed in the desired arrangement. To place the next layer of bottles, the gaps between the bottles in the previous layer are filled with mix. Nicely rammed and smoothened. The process then is continued in the layers to follow. A person needs to continuously make cob balls, as the mix shouldn’t dry out.
If built properly, these bottle walls can last decades without any sign of degradation.
In fact, the first ever bottle wall, constructed in Nevada in the early 1900’s, still stands in all its glory.
So don’t keep your enthusiasm of reusing BOTTLED up!
Text by Neeti Ajit and illustrations by Varsha Raju