Extreme Recycling: The Bottle Houses of Prince Edward Island
Images credit The Bottle Houses
Bottle buildings are what Bernard Rudolfsky called Architecture without Architects, where ordinary people build extraordinary things. At Cap-Egmont in Prince Edward Island, where he was a lighthouse-keeper, Edouard Arsenault started collecting bottles in 1979. According to his daughter Rejeanne on the Bottle Houses website:
inside the tavern
In the spring of 1980, at the age of 66, he began his construction, a mere hobby yet. As his six-gabled structure was taking form, visitors started coming in. Impressed by his work, they encouraged him to continue and to advertise it as a tourist attraction. And so, in 1981, the first Bottle House was open to the public. From 1980 to the spring of 1984, he cleverly cemented over 25,000 bottles of various shapes, sizes and colours, into three fantasy-like buildings.
I suppose after tossing back a few in the tavern, one has to ask for forgiveness in the chapel.
Approximately 10,000 bottles were transformed in 1983 to become a magnificent little chapel, complete with pews and altar. At the time of his sudden death at the age of 70, in the spring of 1984, Mr. Arsenault still had a bit of work to do: he intended to make the steeples higher and the front pew was not quite completed. At sunset, a symphony of light and colors streams in from behind the altar.
One of the problems with vernacular architecture is that the designers don't always get it right. Edouard could have used a bit of engineering assistance at the time.
Unfortunately, Prince Edward Island winters are not very gentle. The railway ties used as foundations by Édouard did not withstand the effects of the bad winter frosts. Over the years, the buildings deteriorated to the point that they had to be re-built from 1992 to 1998.
But this time they put in proper foundations and reconstructed the buildings from careful documentation and photography.
Imagine. 66 year old man builds 3 buildings out of 25,000 bottles in 4 years. I can't. More at Bottle Houses See also great images here
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