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TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - An eco-conscious couple in Taiwan has opened a small schoolhouse built with donated newspapers fed through a homemade blender, the chief architect said on Wednesday.
Canadian-born John Lamorie and his Taiwanese wife, Shelly Wu, used more than 1,000 kg of newspapers, many collected from students who would turn them over for points in class, to build the 75 sq-meter schoolhouse.
"I'm very much into the way I feel about the environment, especially reusing things," said Lamorie, 59, a former building inspector. "It's something that's always been in me, a hangover from my hippie days."
The project took about a year, with school now set to open ahead of schedule as news of the unusual construction method spreads in the rural area of Pingtung county in southern Taiwan where Lamorie and Wu live.
After getting the idea from visiting friends, Lamorie said he built a blender using a truck bed and a lawnmower blade. Into it he fed newspapers, water and cement to form what he calls "Papercrete," the backbone of his six-inch thick school walls.
"Basically it's like a giant blender," he said.
Students contributed about half the used newspapers for the project in exchange for "reward cards," Lamorie said.
Papercrete, though patented in 1928, remains far outside the mainstream of construction materials. It can be labor-intensive and tough to use despite its environmental friendliness.
The schoolhouse's walls are coated with a silicone coating to guard against rain damage. The school can accommodate about 16 students.
Lamorie and Wu are now building a paper-based restaurant where they plan to cook pizzas.
Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Sugita Katyal