How Heineken branched out into bricks for a short while


In the 1960 Dutch beer brewer Heineken came up with the idea of using rectangular, stackable beer bottles thinking that they could be re-used as building materials.

Cabinet Magazine writes how Freddy Heineken got the idea when visiting Curaçao in 1960:

[Heineken] noted with dismay the acres of trash underfoot—a good part of it produced by his own company. Heineken Breweries had an efficient bottle-return system in Holland, where the average bottle was used 30 times before being discarded. But without modern distribution, bottles in Curaçao were used once and thrown out. There was no lack of resulting trash: what the island did lack, however, was affordable housing. Heineken had a flash of brilliance: make beer bottles that you can build houses out of.

An initial bottle design by architect John Habraken—a long slender bottle to be stacked vertically—was vetoed by Heineken’s marketing department for being too ‘effeminate’. The second design was the squat bottle you see in the photo. Of this 100,000 bottles were produced and even a prototype shed near Freddy Heineken’s villa in Noordwijk.

(Photo by, some rights reserved)

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