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Sep 20 2011

NYIT Project Gives New Life to Old Water Bottles

water bottles as thatch for a new century

Old Westbury, N.Y. (September 20, 2011) - Raising the roof has taken on new meaning for two professors and students of NYIT’s School of Architecture and Design.

Their idea to reuse water bottles as roofing materials supports environmentalism, sustainability, and the idea of architects helping society.
Professors Jason Van Nest and Farzana Gandhi will present their research on the bottle roofing project at a lecture featuring the work of NYIT students on Thursday, Sept. 22 at NYIT Gallery 61.  The “Thatch for a New Century” presentation will include demonstrations of computer software used to develop roofing models, prototype roofs, and the plastic bracket the professors invented to connect bottles into roofing sections.
Van Nest and Gandhi, working under the direction of Associate Professor Michele Bertomen, received a provisional patent earlier this year for the bracket, known as the Soda Bottle-Interface-Bracket, or SodaBIB. The SodaBIB connects the bottles, which nest on top of each other and are layered to allow water to flow freely off the roof.  Last summer, the professors worked with 20 architecture students from Old Westbury and Manhattan to test design ideas, research roofing issues, and build small prototype SodaBIB roofs. A website,, includes pictures and descriptions of their work.

Van Nest said the team will seek grants to build larger prototypes, construct a life-size shelter with a BIB roof, and engage large-scale manufacturing ideas for the BIB. The efforts, he said, might lead to partnerships with relief organizations that deploy shelters in disaster areas or developing nations. As the professors envision it, every part of the large pallets of water delivered to areas in need can be used to construct a roof. The empty bottles can be cut and positioned on sections of a pre-divided pallet, while remaining pallet sections are used to reinforce the roof structure.
“This is one way architecture can do something good for the environment,” Van Nest said. “We're making plastic, a material that's detrimental to the environment, somehow sustainable. If this can raise the bar and contribute to an expectation that consumer goods are supposed to have at least two lifecyles, we’d have quite a victory on our hands.”
About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in more than 90 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has more than 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 89,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit
Elaine Iandoli
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