Norwegian startup Othalo is launching low-cost modular houses made from plastic waste, set to make their debut in sub-Saharan Africa.
The homes are designed by architect Julien de Smedt and are part of a collaboration with UN-Habitat – which focuses on building safe and sustainable cities.
Around eight tonnes of plastic goes into each Othalo home, which could potentially be made using materials collected from the local area. As well as recycling waste, De Smedt has said this method could answer a shortage of building materials in parts of the world that are in dire need of housing.
The initial concept designs for the houses show blocky, two-storey buildings with covered roof terraces and balconies. De Smedt based them partly on existing structures found in fast-growing metropolises on the continent, such as Nairobi, echoing how they connect indoor and outdoor space and create ventilation and shade.
Othalo plans to put the first of these homes into production in 2022, estimating that there’s enough plastic waste in the world to complete a billion houses using this method. As well as homes, the company hopes to use plastic for storage units, shelters, schools and hospitals.