Better Beer Bottles

In 1864, Gerard Adriaan Heineken bought a brewery in Amsterdam. Now, all have stories about beer bottles and construction workers.  So, it may surprise you that Heineken once tried to make putting their bottles into the walls of cheap housing a common practice.  Heineken noticed that empty beer bottles were not making it back to bottlers; rather, they were ending up on beaches, so they tried to introduce a new “World Bottle” for distribution to developing countries.

These bottles, either 500ml or 350ml, were stackable like bricks. Each bottle’s neck was designed to fit within a recessed area in the bottom of another bottle’s base, creating rows of glass which, when stacked and layered with a cement mixture, to form a wall. The two sizes weren’t created to meet the desires of beer drinkers, but rather the needs of architecture, with the smaller (and therefore shorter) 350ml bottles acting as half-bricks, evening out rows. Roughly 1,000 WOBOs would be enough to create a small, 3m by 3m building. If the community drank enough beer, it could build a series of tiny houses.

Unfortunately, the WOBOs did not turn out to be a viable product, and never made it past the prototype phase. Only about 100,000 of the bottles ever existed and the vast majority were destroyed once it became clear that Heineken would not be continuing with their use. There is one house, however, made from them on the Heineken estate in Amsterdam. 

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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