While they might seem primitive, woven thatch roofs are an effective way to keep out rain while ventilating a home. But in Ecuador, where grass lands are being reclaimed for farming, discarded plastic bottles might just be a better alternative.
Dr David Saiia, a business professor at Duquesne University, has created a human-powered machine that slices up three-litre plastic bottles into thin strips that work as effectively as thatch and grasses when it comes to making a roof.
In a downpour it's a better alternative to corrugated metal or plastic sheets which can act like a drum as rain drops beat away on it. And the plastic actually lasts a lot longer than natural materials like thatch which will biodegrade at a much quicker rate. So there's less maintenance and re-roofing needed.
Of course, plastic isn't exactly a favourite material of environmentalists, so the new roofs are still undergoing testing to make sure they're safe and non-toxic. But it's estimated that the average home in Ecuador would re-use up to 1600 bottles, saving them from land fills where their environmental impact would otherwise be a negative one. [Duquesne University via Inhabitat]