First Ecobrick Open Space

by | Dec 19, 2018 | - Bottle Building, - Milstein Modules, -Ecobricks

Introducing a new application for communities with 2000+ ecobricks: modular, interactive, open spaces. Our installation, in the centre of the Urban Social Forum, served as a place for participants to mingle, read, chit-chat, prepare their presentations, check their phones and most of all… play!

The banners around the space served to invite participants to make the space their own and to inform about ecobricks, GoBrik, modules and about the Open Space philosophy. Participants were able to arrange the modules as needed — either to sit with friends, or to play and make new ones.

Two months ago, I was sitting in packed Starbucks, looking around at all the students and business people using the space. I was struck with the thought “We need to make ecobricks as cool, funky and as clean as this cafe”.  After all, one of the essential concepts of the ecobrick movement is to transcend the concept of ‘trash’ altogether. I believe that key to transcending waste and pollution is a shift in our perception and I have written about this extensively.  This is the main reason we don’t use the word ‘trash’ on our site and we clean and dry our plastic before putting it into a bottle.

What would redeem the concept of ‘trash’ plastic more than to put it to use in a mall, an airport, a main street — just like a Starbuck Cafe?  And, just like a cafe, wouldn’t it be awesome if the ecobricks could serve as a spot for folks to sit, lounge, chat and to work?  It occurred to me, that indeed, ecobrick modules would be perfect for creating such a space, a space potentially even cooler than a Starbucks.

And thus, over a quiet cup of coffee, the idea for Ecobrick Open Spaces was born!

Shortly afterwards, we were invited to present ecobricks at the 2019 Urban Social Forum in Solo, Indonesia.  All they were asking from us was a short talk.  I realized however, that this was the perfect opportunity to try out the ecobrick Open Space concept.  After all, the slogan for the forum is ‘Another City is Possible’ — they are all about collaborative visioning and co-creating of urban space!  What better way to embody this than… well… letting people co-create their own space right then and there!

Tables, chairs, towers! All made from Dieleman and Milstein ecobrick modules.

With the help of our GEA Ecobrick Trainer network, we were able to mobilize about 150 modules (over 2500 ecobricks!) for the forum.  The folks at the forum were enormously supportive as the synergy of the concept became clearer to us all.  They helped us transport the modules from Jogja, to print our info banners, and covered our hotel stay while we were there.

A big thanks to our Jogja trainers, to Ibu Fais and DLH Jogja, to Ibu Sufi and Mbak Ina for personally lending us their modules.  Thanks to Marimas for sending their modules and attending our talk.  Thanks to Pak Har for the help pulling it off.

As you can see in the photos and the video, the concept for the Open Space is simple, yet pretty revolutionary.  We sensed the raw discomfort and excitement of people as they engaged with the space and realized that it wasn’t what they were used to. In a Starbucks, with its nailed down tables and fixed couches, visitors are just that: visitors. The space is dictated and defined. Using the movable modules however, the Open Space changes all that. The visitor becomes the participant, compelled to play with others in the space, to choose and create their own experience.

150 modules, 2500 ecobricks, 500 kg of plastic!


Oh… and those cool LEGOs that fit so nicely together?  It’s all made with plastic (once known as trash).

Image may contain: 4 people, including Ani Himawati, people smilingAnd with that, the alchemical transition of plastic from trash to treasure is complete.  Subconsciously the participants will never see plastic quite the same way again.

There are now at least half a dozen cities in Indonesia with over 5000 ecobricks.  We hope that this vision helps inspire more Open Spaces in malls, airports, museums and art galleries.  We’re working now on a resource page for our trainer network so that the core concepts are clear, and the banners are available for download and customization.