A PET home for the earthquake victims

Rubble and pet can be used to build temporary homes for the homeless after the earthquakes in Mexico

A PET bottle house being built – Photos courtesy of VIEM MX
English 04/10/2017 11:00 Mexico City Ana Herrera Actualizada 18:00
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Hundreds of people have lost everything after the collapse of their homes following the earthquakes of September 7 and 19. Many of them are currently living in shelters or camping in the middle of the streets, but there is an alternative that could change their situation – temporary homes built with PET bottles, according to the civil association VIEM.

The project
It all began a little less than a week ago, when the architect Fernanda Solano noticed disaster areas were receiving liters of bottled water and the PET bottles were discarded, generating trash.

After a little bit of research, Solano contacted the organization Viviendas Emergentes (Emergent Housing) (VIEM)  and proposed them to build PET houses at disaster areas to provide temporal housing to the homeless victims.

VIEM is an organization based in Querétaro which builds houses with plastic bottles in poor areas, where people don't have enough money to eat. Thanks to Solano's proposal, VIEM is now aiming to promote their project at the communities ravaged by the earthquakes.

Dafne Gallardo, a collaborator with the project, explained during an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, that every PET bottle becomes an “eco-brick” when filled with trash or rubble, and it provides a good sturdiness and stability to the structure.

Gallardo further detailed that for every house they make the foundations with sacks filled with sand or debris, and then they alternate a row of eco-bricks until they reach the desired height. The bottles are tied with raffia fiber, and the bottles can be filled with concrete and gravel, “but to provide a roof for the people sleeping in the streets, we'd use rubble,” she said.

They consider 2 thousand 100 bottles and 10 volunteers would be needed per house – a three per three room – and the house would be finished in three of five days; although this information depends on the drawings of the VIEM organization.

Gallardo says there are several benefits to building with eco-bricks, but the three main ones are: construction times are drastically reduced, eco-bricks are thermal, and the construction can withstand an earthquake.


The first stage of the project was centered in Jojutla, Morelos, an area which was devastated by the September 19 quake, but they are planning to implement the proposal in Oaxaca and Chiapas, states affected by the September 7 quake.

David Garcia, co-founder of VIEM, said through a transmission of Facebook live that Civil Protection is already studying the prototypes and he and his team are just waiting for the necessary permits to begin the construction works.

“We need people who believe in us; we're not funded by the government, we don't belong to any political party, we aren't a private institution and, above all, we won't be selling PET bottles,” said García during his live transmission.

Where and how to donate?
VIEM has installed collection centers in Mexico City, Querétaro, Morelos, and Puebla.

PET bottles must be clean and in good conditions, with the cap on, and, preferably, be of 1-liter capacity.

Currently, the project isn't accepting money donations, they only request help with the following: transports, warehouses to store material, and labor (volunteers) to build the houses.

The organization hopes to finish the recollection of bottles by October 7 and once the first volunteers arrive at the end of the month they will begin with their work.

VIEM is currently accepting volunteers from all over the country and as already formed a partnership with the NGO “Liderazgo Joven” (Young Leadership), under the name “Reconstruir Mexico” (Rebuild Mexico).

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