Drinking may be among the most creative hobbies around. Distillers, brewers, vintners are creators of things fine, new, useful, beauteous, and, on a good day, all of the above.


Today, a look at the genius of Heineken.


It was 1963. Brewer Alfred Heineken and Dutch architect John Habraken bring us the WOBO (world bottle).


Envisioned by beer brewer Alfred Heineken and designed by Dutch architect John Habraken, the “brick that holds beer” was ahead of its ecodesign time.


Mr. Heineken’s idea came after a visit to the Caribbean where he saw beaches littered with bottles and a lack of affordable building materials. The WOBO became his vision to solve both.


The WOBO came in two sizes – 350 and 500 mm versions that were meant to lay horizontally, interlock and layout in the same manner as ‘brick and mortar’ construction. One production run in 1963 yielded 100,000 bottles some of which were used to build a small shed on Mr. Heineken’s estate in the Netherlands.


Despite its success, the Heineken brewery didn’t support the WOBO and the idea stalled. Interest was reignited in 1975 when Martin Pawley published Garbage Housing which included a chapter on the WOBO. Heineken once again approached Habraken who teamed up with designer Rinus van den Berg and designed a building with oil drums for columns, Volkswagen bus tops for roof and the WOBO bottles for walls, but the structure was never built.


Today, the shed at the Heineken estate and a wall made of WOBO at the Heineken Museum in Amsterdam are the only structures where the “beer brick” was used. As to the remaining WOBO’s it’s not clear how many exist, or where. Let us know if you’ve ever seen one — or, lucky you, own one yourself.