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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Heineken's Lost Plan To Build Houses Out Of Beer Bottles

The Heineken World Bottle was designed by architect John Habraken. When then-CEO Freddy Heineken was visiting the island of Curaçao, he was bothered by the mass amounts of trash and the lack of housing. His solution? Make a beer bottle that could serve as a brick when it's finished. It was a brilliant compromise, but Heineken's marketing department rejected it as effeminate. There's a photo of a house built with these at the bottom of this post, along with photos showing in more detail how they fit together.

There are a handful of houses in the US built of beer bottles, although not the brick style bottles - here's "The House of a Thousand Headaches" in Hillsville, VA - unlike other bottle houses, the bottles point outward so that the inner walls are flush:

And a Tonopah, Nevada house built in 1902 made from ~10,000 bottles of J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters (which consisted of various herbs in a solution of 47% alcohol, so not beer, but in the same spirit):

Around 1905, Tom Kelly built this house in Rhyolite, Nevada, using 51,000 beer bottles masoned with adobe:

Building with empty vessels (including bottles) goes back a long way, of course, back at least to ancient Rome, where many structures used empty amphorae embedded in concrete. This was not done for aesthetic reasons, but to lighten the load of upper levels of structures and reduce concrete usage. It's more common to find a wall of bottles than an entire structure.

Here's a tutorial on making your own bottle bricks:

An additional tutorial is here, more on the history of bottle walls here, and more on the Heineken bricks here and here.

Heineken bricks:


  1. How could you forget the "Bottle House" of Kaleva, Michigan?