What is the Soda BIB?

The Bottle Interface Bracket (BIB) is a little bracket that can help people in developing nations build roofs out of reused plastic bottles. It uses the threaded neck of common bottles to create a thatch or tile roof. The BIB can be installed with a simple hammer and nails.

The Building Interface Bracket (BIB)

The roofing system depends on a simple fastener -- a plastic bracket that stacks the cut bottles so they nest into each other. The Bottle Interface Bracket (BIB) makes the assembly self-supporting, it creates nest that ensures strength, it weaves a "breathing roof" of thatch that cools a building, and it guarantees water will drain efficiently off the roof.

Two holes in the BIB are calibrated to host a 8-penny nail, or standard wood screw. Four threaded mounts allow for bottles to be held in place, and attached without additional tools.

The top two threaded mounts of the BIB hold the "Top Thatch" bottles. These mounts are aimed down onto the "Bottom Thatch" bottles to help the nested assembly hold itself together.

What is the Soda BIB Project?

The BIB project intends to change the way people view waste. It promotes an upcycling process, repurposing plastic bottles for an higher environmental value. Specifically, here's how we aim to do it:


The Bottle Interface Bracket (BIB) project will develop a new construction device -- one that permanently attaches waste soda bottles to almost any roof framing. (See below for an illustrated description.)

The device's design will be conducted through a Parametric Modeling class taught a NYIT School of Architecture + Design. Students will be presented with Selected SPI Neck Finish Specifications for Standard Closures and work to perfect a design. Prototypes will be evaluated for water-tightness, thermal performance, and translucency. Also, each bracket design's success will measured against the variety of roof shapes it accommodates.

Project collaborators will mature the resulting design into a market-ready product. This project will culminate with the deliverables listed below.

BIB Project Goals & Implementation


The goals for the BIB project can be subdivided by step:

[1] Create a series of prototype BIBs and scaled architectural models that reflect the variety of roof shapes these prototypes can accommodate. [BIBs will be rapid-prototyped in ABS plastic.]

[2] Create a full-scale BIB-roof of recycled bottles for display in New York's Grand Central Terminal. The roof, and accompanying architectural models from Goal 1, must raise awareness and additional funding for the BIB project. [BIBs will be mass-customized in ABS plastic.]

[3] Create a steel mold to mass produce tens of thousands of BIBs for use in several projects in developing countries. [BIB mold will be milled from hardened steel, BIBs pressed from High Density Polyethylene]


The goals above will be realized in a class setting at NYIT and by a volunteer organization that has already organized to build the roof.

Goal 1 will be achieved via a class [ARCH 291 - Parametric Performance II], taught by project collaborators and held from June to August 2011. The large prototype and individual models from this class will be displayed to meet Goal 2 in the Fall of 2011. Following exhibition, mass-produced BIBs will be manufactured for use in the construction of a school's roof in the Dominican Republic in winter 2011-2012.

Building a BIB Roof | Step 1 - Prepare the bottles

The plain bottle
Cut 1
Cut 2

Collected bottles must be a uniform size and neck. Bottles are prepared for reuse by washing, rinsing, and drying.

(Bottle caps can be recycled, as they are not used in roofing.)

Half the bottles used need only the one cut illustrated above.

The "Top Thatch" will cover all other bottles on the roof, channeling water down into the thatch.

The other half of the bottles used will need two cuts -- the cut illustrated in CUT 1, and a second cut to remove the bottom.

This "Bottom Thatch" will be bundled by the "Top Thatch" and catch all dripping water.

Building a BIB Roof | Step 2 - Attach Bottle Interface Brackets

The plain bottle
Cut 1

(Bottle caps can be recycled, as they are not used in roofing.)

These bottles should be attached once the BIB is safely secured to the roof structure.

The plain bottle
Cut 1

Because it is angled down, this bottle holds the "Bottom Thatch" in place.

This last bottle holds the adjoining "Bottom Thatch" in place. Locking the thatch together will force all the thatch to act against weather forces -- creating a stronger single-membrane roof.

Building a BIB Roof | Step 3 - Assemble the BIB Thatch

The Roof Structure
Adding BIBs
Completing the Thatch

(For scale, 2" x 6" rafters are illustrated with 1" x 3" purlins spanning between them.)

Purlins can be mounted at a variety of angles. Once the mounting angle is calibrated, a final thatch spacing can be determined.

BIBs are securely mounted to the purlins before bottles are added.

(In some cases, constructors can mount the BIBs to the purlins on the ground before lifting the purlins into place between rafters.)

To complete the roof assembly, bottles are screwed into place with the threaded bracket mounts.

(In some cases, constructors can mount the bottle to the BIBs on the ground before lifting the purlins into place between rafters.)

Building a BIB Roof | How A BIB Roof Works

The Breathing Roof

A. Rainfall strikes the roof. It hits a "Top Thatch" bottle. Surface tension and gravity prompts the water to slide down the bottle.

B. Rainwater slides down either side of the "Top Thatch" bottle and drips into the cup of the "Bottom Thatch" bottle of the same assembly.

C. The "Bottom Thatch" acts as a channel for collecting water. It is sloped to push water down toward the cut opening. The overlap between assemblies ensures that water drips from one "Bottom Thatch" bottle to the next.

The Stacked Roof

Qualities of a BIB roof

BIB roofs are awesome.

BIB roofs are dry because they overlap bottles to create any thickness of thatch. BIB roof builders can control the angle bottles, as well as amount of overlap between rows. This means an

They're cool because they act like thatch -- leaving protected gaps between bottles for escaping hot air. Each row releases trapped air, creating a completely porous roof.

BIB roofs are environmentally friendly because they reuse discarded plastic bottle otherwise headed for landfill.

They're inexpensive because most of the roofing material can be salvaged - even in developing countries.

BIB roofs are easy to build because skilled labor only needs to make the structure of a roof and then anyone can assemble the thatch -- no special tools or training necessary!

Arch 291 - Spring 2011 | Our first prototypes

This Spring, Professor Van Nest and Professor Gandhi taught a parametric design elective at NYIT. The course taught Architecture students how to break down a design problem into quantifiable constraints, and to use scripting with Rhino's Grasshopper in order to explore solutions with computation. The final project was to speculate the types of roof shapes the SodaBIB could accomodate. The imagaes below are from the last day of class, where students constructed mock-ups of their SodaBIB designs!

Assembling the first SodaBIB Mockups

These mock-ups, and further design iterations will be on display in the exhibition detailed below...

The first SodaBIB Exhibit | NYIT September 08, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2011 - New York, NY - Architecture professors at the New York Institute of Technology have designed an innovative new bracket to solve shelter issues for disaster relief and in developing countries. The proposed bracket re-uses common water bottles as a roofing material in a project that may have far-reaching effects in the building trades and consumer markets. They will present their invention, called the SodaBIB, in a lecture about architectural design with parametric tools scheduled for September 22, 2011.

The lecture will feature Assistant Professor of Architectural Building Technology Jason Van Nest, RA, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture Farzana Gandhi, LEED AP, presenting research for their invention, the Soda Bottle-Interface-Bracket (BIB). The lecture will also feature NYIT student work that has contributed to the design of the SodaBIB -- especially from a course they co-taught in Spring 2011 -- the School of Architecture and Design elective called Parametric Performance: Generative Design for Architecture.

The presentation will also involve demonstrations of the cutting-edge architectural software used to write scripts (simple computer programs) used to design of the SodaBIB. Demonstrations will include work in Rhinoceros (a NURBS surface modeler), Grasshopper (a parametric design aid), Kangaroo (a physics modeler), and Revit (a building information modeling platform).

Recently, Professor Van Nest commented on the upcoming lecture, "We're really excited to unveil the SodaBIB because the design brings so many important ecological issues to the forefront -- issues of recycling, up-cycling, and responsible consumerism. It's all the better we first unveil the design at NYIT, where the administration and student researchers have created a critical environment to constructively interrogate the design."

The SodaBIB design, student research, prototype mock-ups, and continued research will be on display from September 07 to September 29 at the New York Institute of Technology's Manhattan Campus. Professors Van Nest and Gandhi will speak September 22, 2011 at 5:00 PM.

For more information contact Jennifer Mitchell at jmitchel@nyit.edu.

Other Plastic Bottle Construction, and why BIBs are different

Non-performative plastic bottle building application has been attempted with the Fizzy Bottle Roof project and by United_Bottle. The BIB project advances these early successes by creating a universal building attachment system to allow an unskilled population to build durable roofs that are water-tight, and locally adjustable for climate needs.

The BIB system is applicable to disaster relief missions. It presents quick shelter for refugees already consuming bottled water.

Further, BIB is an alternative to makeshift roofing systems (asbestos corrugated panels and tin roofs) used in developing equatorial countries. They are unstructured, over-heat easily, and use hazardous materials.

The BIB project plans to publish the success of its scheduled roof construction in the Dominican Republic. Articles, web sites, and promotion will continue to raise awareness of bottle reuse. Awareness will create more funds to disseminate BIBs to impoverished areas around the globe.

About the Investigators


Michele is an Associate Professor at NYIT. She is a Registered Architect in New York State, has practiced Architecture in New York City for twenty five years. She is a founding member of Brooklyn Architects Collective. She was the principal investigator for NYIT's Solar Decathlon 2005 where NYIT, in collaboration with the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, developed America's first solar hydrogen home. (Michele earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and studied at the Architectural Association in London, UK.)


Farzana is a Visiting Professor at NYIT. She is principal of FG Design Studio, an independent platform for architectural design, competitions and research pushing innovation within socially conscious and sustainable thought. She is also actively involved as Founder of Design in 5, a group of the Architectural League of New York, formed for designers of all disciplines 5 years of less out of school. Her winning entry for the [spot] national competition was recently built and installed both in Philadelphia, PA and Brooklyn, NY. (Farzana earned a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Architecture with Distinction at Harvard.)


Jason is a Visiting Professor at NYIT and an Adjunct Professor at NYSID. He is a Registered Architect in New York State, has practiced Architecture along the Eastern Seaboard for over ten years. He is a co-founder Anomalus Design Studio, and Mobilis Modeling. Jason is a 2008 MacDowell Fellow and subsequently was elected to a three-year term on the MacDowell Fellow's Committee. He also has been working on a 2005 Boston Society of Architects grant to model urban growth with Genetic Algorithms. (Jason earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Georgia Tech and a Masters of Architecture at Yale.)

How you can Help

This BIB recycled-bottle roofing system can make a big difference in developing countries.

It presents builders with a double benefit. First, it uses readily-found materials of low cost (free) that workers can collect and prepare with little skill. Second, it diverts solid waste - headed for the landfill - and reuses the non-biodegradable plastics in a fashion that values the bottles' durability.

The system requires the prototyping and development of the "Bottle Interface Bracket" (BIB) illustrated above in purple. This device will help an unskilled laborer use the threaded screw-tops of common plastic bottles to quickly assemble roofs with a fraction of the metal fasteners currently used in today's wasteful construction practices.

(More information about NYIT's Architecture Research programs to come...)