Working to create modular homes made from recycled plastic

Designer Julien de Smedt designs range of recycled-plastic houses.

Designer Julien de Smedt is working with Norwegian startup Othalo to create a range of modular houses that will be constructed largely from recycled plastic.

Created by Othalo, in partnership with UN Habitat – the United Nations' programme for sustainable urban development – the homes are designed to be a low-cost option for sub-Saharan Africa.

Using a patented system each house's main structure and walls will be made from recycled plastic, with a sixty-square-metres Othalo house incorporating around eight tonnes of plastic waste. 

Othalo and de Smedt, who designed the modular elements, envision the homes being constructed from plastic that is collected from near the building sites. 

"We believe this is one of the ways to deal with a shortage of building materials in these areas of the world where there is an urgent need for housing," said de Smedt.

"Just as cities are formed by buildings of wood, of concrete, clay, steel, they could very well contain a building constructed from plastic waste, as long as it's done in a safe and sustainable way," he added.

De Smedt said the team plans to host a number of creative collaborations in different locations, in order to create additional elements to supplement the base design and allow for regional adaptation. For the initial designs, de Smedt looked to fast-growing cities such as Nairobi in Kenya.

The early designs for the houses feature a variety of interconnected covered spaces, loggias and terraces that provide sheltered outdoor space and add variety to the houses.

"Parts of this idea comes from the climate that allows outside life but also requires sun shading and ventilation," de Smedt said.

Othalo expects to start mass-producing the houses in early 2022 and believes that the system will allow millions of tonnes of plastic waste to become useful building material.

"If you consider the amount of plastic waste worldwide, this could very well become an entirely new material resource to tap onto," Othalo said.

"With today's plastic waste, more than one billion houses can be built," they added.

This article originally appeared on Dezeen written by Cajsa Carlson
Image source – Julien de Smedt and Othalo

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