David Saiia has found a solution to both a roofing problem and the overabundance of plastic waste. Re-purposing used plastic bottles, Saiia has designed a plastic-thatch roof that keeps out the rain and heat, allows in natural light, and muffles sound.
Currently the two most used roofing options for people living in the developing-world are thatch and corrugated tin. The thatch has some obvious drawbacks. In instances of drought, a spark could easily set the home on fire, leading to homelessness if not loss of life. In the wet season, the thatch will leak, and in some instances collapse from the water-weight. Bugs and moulds can grow and live in the thatch and create a higher risk for disease and infections. Not only that, but the roofs need to be replaced one to two times per year.
Corrugated tin roofs certainly last longer than thatch, but they have their own serious downsides. The temperature on an average summer day in the developing-world can be blistering even in the shade, and under a tin roof a home will feel like an oven. During the rainy seasons, the sound of water falling on the roof will prevent a restful sleep with a deafening roar.
Saiia developed his idea while visiting Maqui Picuna, an Ecuadoran nature preserve. Plastic bottles are cut into strips and adhered together using ultrasonic sealing machines (this is how the infinite torture that is a blister pack is made). The clear plastic provides natural light in the daytime, muffles and protects against rain, and provides ventilation.
Saiia’s idea gets five stars, for its brilliant use of local waste materials, greenness, sustainability, and innovative design.