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Beer Bricks: Raise a toast to this noble but failed idea

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Beer Bricks: Raise a toast to this noble but failed idea

In the 1960s, Alfred Henry Heineken, grandson of the eponymous brewery’s founder, decided his company should do something to help combat world poverty, and the housing shortage in underdeveloped countries in particular.

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His solution? Make beer bottles that could be used as bricks. The specially designed “World Bottles,” or WOBO for short, came in two sizes: 500 ml and 350 ml. The neck of each WOBO was designed to fit snuggly into a recess at the bottom of another. The 500 ml bottles were the size of a standard brick while the smaller bottles were half-bricks. It took about 1,000 bottles to build a 10 x 10 structure.

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About 100,000 of the bottles were produced and a couple prototype buildings constructed on the grounds of the Heineken family estate near Amsterdam, but the concept never caught on. Our guess is that the masons got too drunk trying to keep supplies on hand to build any more.

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