Stackable bricks made from recycled plastic

Using local plastic, architect Rushabh Chheda of Conscious Designs designed building blocks which can be stacked in various ways to facilitate self-built, affordable housing.

Mexico City, like cities in most developing countries, has seen a sharp increase in its urban population, and the demand for affordable housing is increasing. This means more construction material, and thus a larger carbon footprint.

Through this project, Chheda aims to integrate local waste recycling economies and the informal housing industry into a decentrialised circular economy system to solve the affordable housing crises, as well as cleaning up the environment.

Along with co-founder of Conscious Designs Frans Taminiau, Chheda designed building elements made from waste plastic and fly ash. The elements can be produced locally through injection moulding.

The building blocks are designed to be easily stackable with a self-locking design, like blocks of Lego. The bricks are said to be 3 times more insulating than clay bricks and can easily withstand Mexican temperatures. To make the bricks fire resistant and improve its compression strength, the molten plastic is mixed with an eco-friendly filler made from industrial waste. The designers say that the method of construction could reduce the construction costs by almost 60 per cent.

The project won the Clean Energy Challenge.

A similar project that was nominated was set up by Kenyan designer Jay Sandhu, who also designed modular blocks made from single use plastic waste.

Sandhu aims to place plastic recycling bins throughout the city and ideally one or two in every neighbourhood, as well as contact local collection companies. The plastic will be sorted and melted down. Using simple moulds, the plastic would be transformed into three products, namely interlocking plastic blocks for paving or flooring, interlocking building bricks and interlocking plastic posts.

The interlocking blocks and tiles could be used for low cost sidewalks, while the interlocking posts could be used for fencing or lighting/electricity poles, as well as simple structures. Sandhu notes that the plastic components would also reduce deforestation, as wood is used for many of the sane purposes.

Photos: Conscious Designs / Jay Sandhu