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Guy makes an island… out of plastic bottles, it’s taken 2.5 years and he’s happy with the progress.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. Simon says:

    That’s very cool. How many places in the world could you actually do that AND have the government be OK with it? Here you’d never get permission and then even if you did they’d probably tax you on it for being prime beachfront property!

    I imagine the mangrove roots will eventually knit the whole thing together and it should be indestructible?

  2. cdreid says:

    And Simon is right. They’d make him tear it down in the US. And probably fine him for building it as well as tax him. We had a beautiful home a man built in an expensive area here by hand but it wasnt conventional by Any means. The county forced him to tear it down as it ‘offended’ his neighbors.

    Ah to live like this guy. It must get insanely lonely though

  3. SKR says:

    I didn’t RTFA so to speak, but isn’t that the second island the guy has made? I think the first one was destroyed by a tropical storm. Anyway, this idea had been floated around by the seasteders and the rafts of the Flying Neutrinos.

  4. Apis says:

    I read about this a while ago, it’s incredibly cool. Nothing is stopping him from meeting friends or having guests, so no reason why he should be lonely. The problem for me would be Internet access though!

  5. happybird.e says:

    Careful with the BBQ’s or you might have your own “fire island”!

  6. cdreid says:

    Internet access would be my problem as well. It kept me from living aboard a boat. Honestly im curious why he doesnt use plastic barrels as well (they use them to transport juices etc). Im sure he could get tons of them free and the island would be even more stable.

  7. Alan says:

    To the first couple of commenters with the anti-government rants: you could do this in the US. If it’s not built on land, it’s not a house, so it’s immune from building permits and property taxes. The Coast Guard would likely classify it as a vessel, so you’d have to have some minimal safety gear and a sanitation plan so you’re not dumping raw sewage into the waterways. Other than that, it’s no different from any other houseboat. Check out the 79th St. boat basin in Manhattan to see examples of floating residences others have built. None are plastic islands like this, but some of them are only marginally more sophisticated in design.

    Also, if you read between the lines in the story, you’ll hear that the Mexican government has declared this artificial island to be Mexican soil. I’m willing to bet that they’ll be taxing it soon.

    1. Simon says:

      Alan, I think you are making the mistake a lot of American’s do in assuming everyone on the Internet is a fellow American. I live in NZ. And I wasn’t ‘ranting’ about the government here in NZ. I was simply stating a fact. Something like that would simply not be allowed. And even if it was you would have to pay rates on it most probably. It’s nice that this guy has the freedom to just do what he wanted although there might be more story behind that than we’ve seen.

      Also there is no need to ‘read between the lines’ as the article states, quite clearly if you follow the link, that the Mexican government want to declare it Mexican soil.

      Simon

      1. Alan says:

        Nope, I never assume I’m talking to an all-American audience online. If you re-read the thread, you’ll see that the second comment actually does come from a US perspective, and you might also notice that I didn’t phrase my comment exclusively. You originally asked how many places in the world one could actually do this legally (apparently universalizing your own NZ experience, by the way). I replied that here in the US, it would probably be fine. I was providing one example.

        1. Mitch says:

          I’m in Canada, and I found that Canada recognizes the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) definition of protected areas as: “a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”
          It has a motor which technically makes it a houseboat and a protected area, which is free of the usual type of taxes associated with land ownership. If it’s moored just offshore and run sustainably, there’s not much they can do. Obviously if you’re causing trouble in any way then they’ll find some way to fine you, but if you’re running things sustainably and offering something to the community, you’ll get away with it.

  8. cdreid says:

    that is probably true in a few places but not most. There are communities of “houseboats” that are in fact houses built on water attached to land that literally cant move. So the cities pass ordinances to zone them. Which means they do to those owners exactly what they do to homeowners (which is fine in THAT case). There are also cities that outlaw or heavily control both houseboats and liveaboards. Cities even do this to boaters.. limiting marinas and even hookups.

    You try building something like this in coastal US or near a city and it will be torn down or required to have $50k in upgrades in no time flat. America hates people who arent “part of the system”

    1. Alan says:

      Sounds like you’re just hanging out in the wrong parts of the country, cdreid. Sure, a high-end district like Miami Beach would try to run a homebuilt raft out of town, but dock it in an urban industrial zone and nobody would even notice. My point was that there’s no automatic Federal pre-emption of this sort of thing, and municipalities would have relatively limited recourse. If, for example, you moored it just offshore rather than tying it to a dock, the local authorities would have a very hard time getting rid of you.

      Having said all of that, houseboat dwellers should avoid being parasites. If you send your kids to public school but dodge property taxes, or dump your raw sewage into public waterways, or park your trash heap someplace where it’s a hazard to navigation, then you deserve to be fined. With autonomy comes responsibility.