21 | SEP | 2019
Mexican gardener builds home out of sargassum bricks
The gardener was concerned that the rain might ruin his creation but, much to his surprise, he found that the bricks were intact after being left outside during a storm - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexican gardener builds home out of sargassum bricks

25/05/2019
14:24
Blanca Corzo
Mexico City
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Omar Vázquez is currently working to generate a positive impact for the environment and Mexico's marginalized communities

Omar Vázquez is a gardener from Quintana Roo. Scarcity and poverty were his way of life as a child. However, throughout his life he has worked with his hands and a lot of creativity. Now, he has found an innovative way to put sargassum to a good use.

Omar had longed to chase the American dream in the U.S., where he lived for 30 years. Now, his aspirations have changed: He is currently working to generate a positive impact both for the environment and marginalized communities in Mexico, providing them with sustainable homes.

It all started five years ago, when he was picking up sargassum from the beaches of Quintana Roo for composting.

Following the environmental contingency caused by a plague of algae in 2015, and after a few trials, Omar managed to create bricks out of the organic material.

The gardener was concerned that the rain might ruin his creation but, much to his surprise, he found that the bricks were intact after being left outside during a storm.

Omar started creating more and more construction blocks and managed to produce a total of 3,500 in just one week. Two weeks later, he built his first sustainable home. Named “Angelita” after his mother, the building was the first house to be built entirely out of sargassum blocks.

“I believe that the ocean is wise and through the massive arrival of this macroalgae, it is trying to tell us something. Sargassum is a problem to us all, but now we can clean up our beaches, build new homes, and give them to people living in poverty, all the while creating jobs,” stated the gardener.

The house is 430.5 square feet in size and is 100% organic, with thermal insulation and better acoustics. It was made entirely out of Mexican products and built by Mexican hands.

Angelita is located in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo and is now used as headquarters for Vázquez’s plant nursery.

Omar Vázquez only wants to make life better for people with few financial resources. “I know what it’s like to live like that, only there was no one to help me back then,” he stated.

Each house takes around a month to build and only 20 tons of sargassum are required to make the construction materials. The process is sustainable, since a very low amount of water is used in creating its infrastructure.

No additional adhering materials are required either, since the bricks are put together with sargassum clay.

Regarding the strong smell of sargassum, the inventor claimed that each brick was odorless. “You’d have to ask God about this one. I don’t know how it happened, but when I made the bricks, the smell was gone,” he claimed.

Each brick weighs around 5 kilograms (11 pounds) and is composed of approximately 60% sargassum, the rest is made of other organic products. Furthermore, it comes at a cost that is between 25% and 27% lower than that of regular building blocks.

“It is feasible to build this type of house anywhere, they are very resistant, anti-seismic, anti-hurricanes, plus they can also be used as dividing walls,” added Vázquez.

He assured that he planned to take his project to some places in Latin America and Europe, where there are high levels of sargassum.

“We need to consolidate what we’re doing in Mexico and then take it abroad,” Vázquez concluded.
 

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