Bottling it up: Taipei's plastic brick pavilion

TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - A Taiwan company has built a three-storey exhibition hall using 1.5 million plastic bottles instead of bricks to raise interest in recycling, creating what the builder described as a world-first.

Far Eastern Group, a Taiwan-based conglomerate known for construction and financial services, commissioned the 130 meter (426 ft) long, 26 meter (85 ft) high structure almost three years ago and will donate it next month to the city government.

Builders took bottles from Taiwan’s waste stream for reprocessing into plastic containers that interlock strongly enough to block the elements and withstand storms or earthquakes, said Arthur Huang, managing director of the contractor Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Ltd.

No one else in the world had built an exhibition hall with walls made entirely of bottles, he said.

“The chairman of Far Eastern is very gung-ho on the sustainability thing,” Huang said. “He always says sustainability can’t wait. He’s looking five to 10 years ahead.”

The pavilion, dubbed the EcoARK, includes an amphitheatre, museum space and a screen of falling water collected during rainy periods for air conditioning. The clear plastic containers in the wall allow natural light to flood the cavernous interior.

Far Eastern will donate the T$133 million ($4.22 million) building to the city next month for use as a fashion pavilion during a flora exhibition in November, Huang said.

After the show, the wall panels will be packed up and reassembled elsewhere, he said.

Outside Taiwan, builders have used recycled bottles to make igloos, greenhouses and even a floating tropical island. Recycled bottles are normally reprocessed into new consumer goods.