From heavy construction to surfacing contractors, the materials used to make most of the infrastructure we use every day.

From Portland cement and concrete to tarmac, steel and clay bricks, most of the building materials we commonly see are familiar to the vast majority of engineers, contractors and pedestrians alike.

However, amongst the more familiar materials we see being used every day in huge numbers, there are a lot of more unusual and strange materials that have previously been used in the construction of large projects, some of which may be very familiar.

Here are some of the most bizarre.


Lego Bricks

Whilst children and adults throughout the world know the potential of Lego bricks to bring an idea to life and create houses for little toy people, Lego has actually been used as a legitimate building material.

As part of the series James May’s Toy Stories, the former Top Gear and The Grand Tour presenter used 3.3m bricks and over a thousand volunteers to put together an actual Lego house that he spent the night in, to highlight its potential as a modular building material.

Unfortunately, for various reasons the house was dismantled soon after the episode was aired.


Works Of Fiction

One of the biggest and most important pieces of road infrastructure in recent years is the construction of the M6 toll road in 2003 to reduce congestion on one of the busiest motorways in the country.

However, what many people might not be aware of is that the top layer of the road itself is actually made from 2.5m old books.

Specifically, the Mills and Boon range of bodice rippers that were either damaged or at the end of the fast-moving line were pumped up and served as a top layer.

They served quite a few purposes at once; they absorbed sound very well and would form a sort of glue that held the tarmac and asphalt layers together.



One of the biggest sources of salt on earth is the Khewra Salt Mines, and because the slightly pinkish salt is so plentiful, it is not only mined and sprinkled on chips but also used to make buildings.

There is a post office and even a mosque made of the mines, used by miners who would spend a long time extracting salt.

Outside of the Himalayas, there is also the Palacio de Sal in Spain, which is a luxury hotel made of over one million blocks of salt.


Beer Bottles

In Thailand, in the district of Khun Han, monks and locals alike were alarmed by the number of bottles that were washing up in the water and wanted to have a solution that would help the environment in several ways.

Their answer was to collect empty beer bottles from the locals and build a temple out of them, the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew (Temple of a Million Bottles). After finishing the main temple after two years of work in 1986, they have continued to expand the site to over 20 other buildings.

These include a crematorium, prayer rooms, a water tower, bungalows for the monks themselves as well as facilities for tourists. Even the beer bottle caps are used to make mosaics.