Perfecta Calderón's new home: PET plastic and wooden crates. Perfecta Calderón's new home: PET plastic and wooden crates.

Another solution for housing quake victims

Construction firm, non-profit build house from plastic bottles and wooden crates

Another innovative solution to the housing crisis caused by September’s twin earthquakes has been unveiled in a small community in Puebla.

In San Antonio Alpanocan, located in the west of the state near the border with Morelos, construction company Bioconstruye this week completed an environmentally sustainable home using wooden crates and plastic PET bottles.

Dozens of families in the avocado and peach growing community became homeless after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on September 19, including Perfecta Calderón, whose adobe home crumbled from the sheer force of the temblor.

Calderón told the newspaper Milenio that the quake took both a physical and emotional toll on the community.

“Everyone was crying in the street, they wouldn’t go into their homes anymore, they were with the Virgin in the street praying,” she recalled.

She and her family, like many others in the small town, improvised a makeshift shelter out of sheet metal and tarpaulins but heavy rains soon followed, making the already difficult living conditions unbearable.

“We lived under a tarp but it rained a lot, everything got wet, my blankets, my bed, everything . . .” she said.

But after being chosen as the beneficiaries of the new home and moving in this week, she and her family finally have something to smile about.

Micheline Gama, an architect and project director for Bioconstruye, explained that she was determined to use her knowledge to help people who had lost everything in the quake. Straight away, she thought of the creative construction method that the company had already tested.

“On the second day after the earthquake I was thinking about how I could help and I started designing the floor plan. I already knew which technique [to use] because we have a home prototype in Morelos that withstood the earthquake as though it were nothing,” she said.

She then contacted InfraRural, an association with extensive experience carrying out projects in rural communities, to collaborate on the idea. The group agreed and consequently obtained the required materials and organized volunteers to make it a reality.

According to Gama, the materials and building method make the home  well-insulated, durable, earthquake-resistant and sustainable. Once other materials are added and the house is painted, it is virtually impossible to guess that the bulk of the home is made out of wooden crates and plastic bottles.

San Antonio Alpanocan

The home went up in just six days with Calderón involved in each stage of its construction, meaning that she not only has a new house but one that was built to her own personal specifications.

Using her own means, she explained, she never would have been able to build a new house.

“. . . I’m working just to put food on the table and [pay for] school . . .” she said.

Some of the other materials that have been used to build new homes or temporary shelters for earthquake victims are bamboo, PVC tubing and aluminum.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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