Richard Sowa (Spiral Island)

Spiral Island

Richard Sowa, Spiral Island Genius

Richie is onto his second island: the new island is about 20 metres (66 ft) in diameter, and plants and mangroves are already growing on it. It contains about 100,000 bottles.  The new island has beaches, a house, two ponds, a solar-powered waterfall and river, and solar panels. Volunteers helped with the project. Sowa will continue to make improvements to the Island, so it will always be a work of art in progress.        Click on the pictures for links.

Plastic Bottle Island Grand Launch on Kickstarter

April 2011

Please visit our campaign on to learn how you can help launch Joysxee Island out of the lagoon and into the bay of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Do the plastic bottles deteriorate and what happened to the first 2 Islands?

. This actualy does NOT happen!!! The mangrove roots and marine life hold it all in place and the plastic Does NOT in any way deteriorate because it is away from uv rays*  The first Island was stopped by authorities and all the bottles were put where all the other trash was and the the second was washed as with everything does when there is a big storm, high and dry on a beach by hurracane Emily. It was even beginning to grow into the sand and was ordered to be bulldozed by a hotel project into the landfill with the rest of the trash. Nothing was washed out to sea!

Plastic Bottle Island

Nov 15, 2007

Spiral Island - 2002 - Part 1

Spiral Island - 2002 - Part 2

Spiral Island - 2002 - Part 3

New Spiral Island 2008

Aug 11, 2008

Created by Richart Sowa, on Isla Mujeres, near Cancun, Mexico. It floats on over 130,000 recycled plastic bottles. Featured on MTV "Extreme Cribs" USA in 2011. Open for tours.

Richie Sowa's Man Made Island

Jan 2011

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

These truly innovative sustainability pioneers are some of the TOO FEW people busy finding a solution to this:

and one of the amazing properties of plastics is that they last forever ... 

which is great for buildings, & terrible for ecosystems.    

This is also a big problem with imagination - because we think 'rubbish' we find it very hard to think it could be transformed into the the most beautiful (& clean) thing ... with a little lateral-thinking & a lot of creativity.   

But it can, as well as lasting forever (the bigges problem of rubbish)!    

It is so horribly ironic & totally typical of our consumerist culture that we turn a blind eye to the horrors of the rubbish we are creating, and then so badly long to live in surroundings made of 'natural materials' even as our actions (& lack of actions) are destroying natural habitats at a huge rate.

Plastic Trash Island Disaster

Yet just applying the above 2 common-sense design rules + the wonderful permaculture principle of "The Problem is the Solution" we can so easily arrive at the elegant idea of turning this mess into beauty & very intelligent design, as these pioneers have. 

About Spiral Island

from Wikipedia

Spiral Island is the name of two floating artificial islands in Mexico built by British artist Richart "Rishi" Sowa. The first was destroyed by a hurricane in 2005; the second has been open for tours since 2008.

Spiral Island has been featured in a number of newspapers and TV documentaries around the world, including in Japan and South Korea, and was seen in an episode of the Ripley's Believe It or Not! television program.

Spiral Island I

The first Spiral island was located in a lagoon near Puerto Aventuras, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico south of Cancún; Sowa began constructing it in 1998. 

He filled nets with empty discarded plastic bottles to support a structure of plywood and bamboo, on which he poured sand and planted numerous plants, including mangroves.

 The island sported a two-story house, a solar oven, a self-composting toilet, and three beaches. 

He used some 250,000 bottles for the 66 feet (20 m) by 54 feet (16 m) structure. The mangroves were planted to help keep the island cool, and some of them rose up to 15 feet (4.6 m) high.

Almost all of the sand Sowa used for Spiral Island I was taken from the end of the beach, where it came up against the man-made rock pier on the edge of the canal system where the Island was tied. 

Due to the prevailing winds, beach-sand was constantly being piled up because of the constant motion of the waves and wind. 

The beach sand was dredged out using large machinery so that boats could continue to come through the canal. Since Sowa gathered 8 to 10 large buckets per week, the builders of Puerto Aventuras Canal did not need to dredge it again, as he was doing it for them.

The island was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005.    The island was washed completely onto the beach in one piece, and a small proportion of the bags of bottles washed up on the beach away from where it landed. 

The roots of the 7-year old, 7 metres (23 ft)-tall mangroves were intertwined through the island's base and the strong net that was wrapped totally under the whole island helped to keep it together.

Spiral Island II

In late 2007 and 2008, Sowa built a new Spiral Island in the waters of Isla Mujeres, the "Island of Women", also near Cancun. It opened for tours in August, 2008. It is referred to by Rishi as Joyxee Island.

The new island was initially 20 metres (66 ft) in diameter, which has since expanded to 25 metres (82 ft), and plants and mangroves are already growing on it. It contains about 100,000 bottles. 

The new island has three beaches, a house, two ponds, a solar-powered waterfall and river, a wave-powered washing machine and solar panels. Volunteers helped with the project. Sowa will continue to make improvements to the Island, so it will always be a work of art in progress.

In May 2011, Rishi embarked on a project to berth his island out in Isla Mujures Bay, as it was now too big for its current place in Laguna Majax. The Mexican Government also recognized Joyxee Island as an "Eco Boat" and therefore needed to comply with all current boating regulations, which involved the purchase of fire extinguishers, life ring buoys and emergency kits. 

The project was launched on with a goal of $18,000. By the time the project had expired, it had nearly $5,000 pledged.



External links