small., along with the support of WSP Design Studio, came up with an innovative
shelter design that uses low cost, lightweight and sustainably sourced
materials, namely discarded plastic bottles, bamboo and straw in a bid to
tackle plastic pollution and provide emergency shelter to disaster-stricken
communities in the light of the recent natural disasters.
WSP’s Design Studio put together a proof-of-concept study to take
Ricky’s concept a step further. The challenges were great, housing needed to be
readily portable but robust enough to protect its occupants from the elements,
while being made from only bamboo and scavenged plastic bottles.
As part of the study, WSP’s Design Studio tested several insulating
materials, that could be placed inside each bottle, to improve the structure’s
thermal performance and discovered that straw would provide the best level of
The team then proposed that these thermally efficient “bottle bricks” be
mounted on a formwork of bamboo struts arranged in a triangular form to ensure
optimum stability. The entire structure would then be anchored to the ground through
a unique set of bottle foundations weighted down by soil and sand to provide a
solid base. The resulting four-meter-high structure would be easy and quick to
build, in this case less than one day.
After collecting 2,000 bottles we built our
first prototype for the Clerkenwell Design Week in London in May, from the
bottles, bamboo and straw. Since then the Royal Academy has selected our design
for their Summer Exhibition, and we’re incredibly proud to have a model of the
shelter on display there.