298: Modular houses from 100% recycled plastic


There is a housing deficit of 160 million homes in Africa today, and it is forecasted to increase to 360 million by 2050. Traditional technology is costly and would take too much time to build.


Temperature-controlled Mobile Storage Units

In partnership with UN Habitat program, Danish Architect Julien de Smedt, working with Frank Cato Lahti’s start-up Othalo in Troms country, Norway have developed a solution for building low-cost houses in sub-Saharan countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, and Uganda.

Lahti has been developing and testing the Othalo technologies in partnership with Sintef and UiT since 2014, and in 2019 the company was formally established and patents filed. These patents, including a load-bearing structure and a supportive and insulating structure: each house will be made from 100% recycled plastic, with a 60 m2 Othalo house incorporating around eight tonnes of plastic waste.

It involves industrialized processes that, from pickers to fitters, creates up to 1600 jobs per one thousand 60sqm houses produced per year. 8100 metric tonnes of recycled plastic per production line per year, means it is a significant contributor to the plastic waste problem.

Othalo and De Smedt, envision the homes being constructed from plastic that is collected from near the building sites. Just as cities are formed by buildings of wood, of concrete, clay, steel, they could very well contain a building constructed from plastic waste, as long as it’s done in a safe and sustainable way.

Othalo expects to start mass-producing the houses in early 2022 and believes that the system will allow the millions of tonnes of plastic waste to become useful building material. With today’s plastic waste, more than one billion houses could be built.

Discover Solution 299: Sustainable or recycled musical instruments

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