Starting Small…

What is sustainability? Google defines it as ‘’Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance’’. But to me this explanation is simply too many words. I truly understood what sustainability is, on the first day of my internship at an architecture office, last summer. As a first year, the most I expected was a few billion coffee runs but to my surprise, the head architect asked me to create a desalination plant from coke bottles on my very first day. I spent the initial couple of minutes staring bewildered at his face, but he wasn’t kidding. After only an hour of research I realized, it was actually possible. I’m not a big fan of overly carbonated drinks, however I was finally convinced that there is something useful that they can bring to the table. If not their content then at least their casing. I won’t tell you whether I was actually successful or not because I’ll leave that for you try and figure out. However I will say this much; that a mere piece of trash has the potential to actually turn into not only something useful but also something that is visually pleasing. After this experience, if I were to explain ‘’sustainability’’ in the easiest possible way, I would say that it is something that is long lasting. Now just because it needs to live long, it does not mean that it needs to have the ‘’same function’’ forever. With this, we come back to the much talked about but not always in the most exciting ways- the concept of recycling. No!  I won’t go on a tangent about how our planet is dying and we need to give up on sodas and anything that involves a plastic or glass bottle. Because we all know that, that approach is neither practical nor fun, for you and me. Instead I’ll showcase how “beautiful” and “useful” our trash really is- more specifically thrown away bottles.

Richard Pim from Pembridge, Herefordshire is a Hydro -geologist who proves that you don’t need to be an artist or a skilled designer to create something aesthetic. He uses 5000 colored glass bottles set between crossed arches to construct a dome shaped shed in his garden which is open to visitors. He describes his creation as a “huge hot cross bun”. He also takes into consideration the reflected and transmitted light when using a material like glass. The bottle necks all point straight to the center of the dome to ensure that the sunlight travels directly down the bottles that are stuck to each other with mortar. Moreover in order to create a glistening sparkle on the nearby pool, a section of the hemisphere continuously faces the sun. The reinforced concrete arches are mixed with limestone for a pearly white appearance that gives a personal touch as well as a unique character to the structure. The end product is indeed an eye’s worth and was created entirely by Mr Pim on his own.  He says that the idea came to him as he was enjoying a few drinks in his garden. It was as simple as that. In the end all you need is a little bit of motivation to not keep all those innovative ideas we have inside us, bottled up.

The Ginger Restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina is another example that shows the untapped potential used-glass bottles have. The restaurant uses yet again 5000 wine bottles to resolve the acoustic problem it was facing in its salon because of the “bouncing” of sound waves. These bottles create a “roof” under the roof by lining up on a metal net that was created to hold them. The curved structure of these bottles allow the breakage of these bouncing waves and improve the acoustics of the salon.

Another restaurant in the same city that takes recycling bottles to a whole new level is La Dorita. They combine bottles in different arrangements to create various lights, hung on the ceiling and used as lamps. The construction is relatively straightforward with an iron structure along with the bulb and transparent glass being supported by a chain. The bottles are then attached to the sides. Different shapes are used for visual variety. The restaurant takes a bold step further and incorporates the bottles in the stair railing and balcony fence as well. We end up with another great example of how recycling does not necessarily have to mean creating something that appears “earthy”, “organic” or “rustic”. La Dorita stands as a convincing argument against those claims with its warm and classy ambiance.

By now I assume you must be overwhelmed by the scale of these projects and all the extra work they require, especially when it is so much easier to hire someone to build whatever your heart desires at the drop of a hat. However my purpose was not to leave you feeling bad about all those environmentally friendly ideas that you often have in your mind but never have the time to actually implement. Instead, I aimed at highlighting how far you can come, on your own, only if you make the first step by starting small. It is about time the world knows that design is not restricted to those who end up in art school but in-fact that there is a designer waiting to be discovered in all of us. So let’s not keep her/him ‘bottled up’ and this year discard our trash from spring cleaning by transforming it into something else we need. Here are some small scale projects that you can start with until you build your own backyard outhouse.


Alvarado, Paula. “5,000 Wine Bottles Recycled Into Acoustics-Improving Ceiling At Buenos Aires Restaurant.” TreeHugger . Np, 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. URL:

Alvarado, Paula. “Every Lamp In Buenos Aires Restaurant Made Recycled Wine Bottles (Photos).” TreeHugger . Np, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. URL:

Cumming, Ed. “Sheer follies: a very British eccentricity.” The Telegraph . Telegraph Media Group, 26 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. URL:

“Bottle Dome – Eco Shed from Garden # shedoftheyear.” Eco Shed from Garden owned by Richard Pim # , nd Web. 17 Feb. 2017. URL: SHARESHED = 4943

Zahrah, Niha. “Decoracion Hogar – Decoracion Diy-Manualidades – Community – Google.” Pinterest . Np, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. URL:

Avenue, The and The Avenue. “DIY Backyard Home Projects- Ideas- The 36 th Avenue”. The 36 th Avenue. Np. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017. URL:

“DIY: Mesa de Centro com Caixotes.” DIY Mesa de Centro com Caixotes . Np, 16 July 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2017. URL:

Carter, Amanda, and Amanda Carter View Profile View Forum Posts Private Message View Blog Entries View Articles Amanda Carter has no set of biography Author’s Posts Table Wednesday, 16 November 2016Saddle Stool Transformation Thursday, 03 November 2016Creating a Beautifully Edged Block Sidewalk. Monday, 24 October 2016From Old Chairs to Beautiful Bench. “Repurposed Wine Bottle Fence.” The Refurbished Home . Np, 21 Oct. 2015. Web. 27 Feb. 2017. URL: