BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 15 Aug '17

University of Nottingham students to build earthquake-resistant housing in Nepal

A group of 11 students at the University of Nottingham have come together to create a social enterprise that will provide vulnerable communities in Nepal with safe, affordable housing made from recycled plastic bottles.

Many regions of Nepal were greatly affected by the earthquake in 2015; the students are aiming to tackle the urgent need for safe and affordable housing for those who lost everything.

First of its kind

Bottle by Bottle operates as part of Enactus Nottingham, a not-for-profit, student-led organisation that exists within the University of Nottingham.

Enactus students work to transform the lives of people in need through the power of business, focusing on impact rather than profit. They do this by setting up social enterprises that provide employment and promote social and environmental good.

Bottle by Bottle is the only student-led social enterprise of its kind, and it’s embarking on a project has never been implemented before.

Buildings made from one-off plastic bottles have been constructed, but Bottle by Bottle’s aim is to develop the concept into a sustainable social enterprise that will empower people and change lives for many years to come.

A win-win-win solution

The project addresses three main problems identified by the students: the economic demand for sustainable jobs in underdeveloped communities; the social need for more safe and affordable housing in remote communities and the environmental issues associated with the vast amount of plastic wasted each year through single-use bottles.

For Bottle by Bottle, the solution is to reduce plastic waste in Nepal by recycling PET bottles into construction materials that can be used to build houses, while also providing employment and education to create a more sustainable future for individuals and communities.

Members of the local community will be employed to fill plastic bottles with soil, sand and other plastic waste, and Bottle by Bottle will work with local construction companies to implement our sustainable building process to provide safe homes – at a third of the cost of using conventional building techniques.

Bottle by Bottle will also teach about the harmful effects of unsustainable plastic waste management; the project invests profits back into communities to ensure multi-level, continued environmental benefits.

Bottle houses

Bottle by Bottle’s unique construction technique involves filling PET bottles with sand, then tying them together with string and securing them with mortar and wire. This method has been recognised as earthquake resistant from other one-off builds around the world and has been reviewed by Lungfish Architects.

To test the technique, a full-scale shelter was built in the Department of Architecture at the University of Nottingham. The mini project helped the team understand the on-site processes, the challenges they may face out in Nepal and the cost and time requirements of such an ambitious project.

The response in Nepal

Following the successful prototype build, five members of Bottle by Bottle conducted a two-week research trip in Nepal. With help and support from Live to Love, the team met with suppliers, explored the site in Panchkhal and met the woman for whom they will build the first prototype house.

The aim of the trip was to confirm that this modern form of construction would be something rural communities in Nepal would accept. The team received a very positive response from families, NGOs and organisations.

Bottle by Bottle is hoping to raise £3,000 to help fund the construction of a bottle house for a victim of a Nepalese earthquake. The money will support the team and help make a dream come true for this group of students in Nottingham – and families in Nepal who are living in temporary shelters and unsafe accommodation.

Click here to pledge your support. Every little really does help.

Family in Nepal will receive a new, safe home
This is the first family in Nepal that will move into a new, safe Bottle by Bottle home

Preparing for the first build

During the trip, and with the help of Live to Love, Bottle by Bottle visited and trained the Drukpa Kung Fu Nuns, who have now filled over 2,000 bottles for the team to build with. Bottle by Bottle’s first employee, Deepesh, is responsible for mobilising volunteers to fill the rest of the 6,500 bottles needed to build the first plastic bottle home in September 2017.

Four members of the Bottle by Bottle team will travel back out to Nepal on 04 September 2017 to build the first of their plastic bottle houses that will be lived in as a home.

A family that currently lives in a temporary tin sheet shelter in Panchkhal (pictured above) will receive a safe and comfortable home they can call their own, and their quality of life will be transformed.

Temporary shelter for family in Nepal
Many families in Nepal live in temporary tin shelters

Click here to support Bottle by Bottle and to see more information on its Just Giving page.