Finnish building invention rebuilds earthquake-devastated schools in Indonesia

A Eco-Block school building in process.

It is basically like a Lego block, the plastic bricks that the Finnish company “Block Solutions” produces. But the “Eco-Blocks” as the building material is called could be the solution to fast rebuilding of disaster-stricken areas.

The material has been the basis of the “Classroom of Hope” organization’s construction project of building new schools in Indonesia that were destroyed by earthquakes, Pro Bono News writes.

Duncan Ward, the founder of Classroom of Hope, is one of the driving forces behind the project and he explains that some of the biggest qualities of Eco-Blocks is that it allows for a very quick building process.

“It took six days to build the school with these things. It would usually take around three to six months [to build a school] but these blocks are fully interlocking and come in groups of two, four, and eight, which makes things quicker,” Ward says.

The Eco-Blocks are better suited for new earthquakes since the material in them is much lighter and therefore less of a hazard to human injuries in case of new quakes.

“The plastic in the blocks gives them a level of elasticity that in, say a bad earthquake, if they fall on you there’s less likelihood of them causing serious harm,” Ward explains.

The potential of Eco-Blocks

The Eco-Blocks has other upsides to them as well. The building material was created as an affordable solution for building low-income homes across Africa and Asia — all from recycled materials.

The blocks used for building the school in Lombok Indonesia were created from 50 percent recycled plastic waste and 50 percent leftover wood fibers from Finland’s forestry industry. Building with Eco-Blocks are therefor also ecofriendly.

“For every classroom we can build with Eco-Blocks, we’re also removing two to three tons of plastic waste from the environment,” Ward says.

Adding to this, is the benefit of the low cost involved with constructed buildings made of Eco-Blocks compared to normal constructions.

“They’re so much cheaper to build with. A standard government classroom in south-east Asia costs on average US$14,000. An Eco-Block classroom costs about US$7,000. Plus, it only takes around five hours to build,” Ward adds.

All these combined benefits connected with Eco-Block construction makes it a great potential as rebuilding material in crisis areas worldwide.

“Block Solutions is already working with UN Habitat and I’m talking with the Red Cross and various other organizations [about how] Eco-Blocks can be used to quickly build houses, toilets and warehouses if an earthquake were to hit. It’s such a super versatile, and sustainable, product,” Ward says.

The next goal for the Duncan Ward and the classroom of hope is to build an Eco-Block factory in Indonesia. This will be better for the environment since shipping can be avoided and it will also create jobs for Indonesians.

A video of a school being constructed using Eco-Blocks

About Lasse Sandholdt

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Lasse Sandholdt