Bring it Back: 50th B-Day of the Beer Bottle Building Block

Fifty years ago, international brewmaster Alfred Heineken created what may to this day be the most brilliant beer bottle ever designed. After the liquid contents are consumed, the rectangular bottles come become standard-sized bricks that could be stacked to create attractive and rigid residential walls.

His forward-thinking innovation was a response to visiting a poor Dutch island on which many residents lived in shoddy structures (or were entirely homeless). He envisioned a low-energy, easy and eco-friendly system well before its time – houses built with solid, recycled green walls that would let in limited light but also serve as barriers to heat and cold.

Still rounded on two sides, a flatter pair of opposing faces came complete with easy-grip surfaces to make them easier to hold and able to stay in place, stable on top of one another. Strangely, only sixty thousand were ultimately created – they are sadly far from the accessible building material their inventor expected them to be.

What may be most amazing about all of this is the fact that it ultimately failed: no structures built with these blocks survive today. Presumably they were perfect for tightly packing in square shipping crates and rectangular cargo containers. Moreover, there is now a serious movement toward using recycled plastic and glass bottles for everything from floating man-made islands to recycled bottle shacks – perhaps Heineken’s creation was simply brewed up too soon.

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