Can tires be used to build houses? Sounds bizarre. But this in fact is a reality in highlands around the Colombian capital, where there are scattered small buildings made from the tires that litter the country's roads. Environmental activist Alexandra Posada, aged 35-years, is the woman behind the innovative project and seems to have found an ingenious solution to a tricky problem.
Colombians throw out more than 5.3 million tires every year that pollute the environment. They often end up abandoned in unsightly piles along the country's roads, or are burned to get rid of them, adding to the pollution levels. Posada said, "I get these tires for free because it's a huge problem for people to get rid of them. They take thousands of years to decompose, which we've transformed from a problem into an opportunity. If you use them as construction materials, they become virtually eternal bricks."
Posada and her team use a range of tires from semi trucks to cars. They stack them together around iron bars to create round structures that are at once solid and flexible, well insulated against the heat and cold, but also rubbery enough to withstand the earthquakes common in this seismically active Andes region. Posada said, "The houses have rounded cement-and-steel ceilings over the bedrooms and kitchen, and flat wood-plank ceilings over the living room and dining room. Both are covered by another layer of tires, making an almost non-degradable, impermeable roof." The team is also using glass bottles to make skylights in the bedrooms, inserting them vertically in the concrete ceilings to create a pixellated stained-glass effect.
Posada said, "These houses are made with reused materials, but they're also beautiful, airy, with more indirect light." She has so far used about 9,000 old tires to make the walls, roofs, terraces and steps of her rubber 'igloos'.