If you’ve ever hefted a single concrete block, you can probably guess how much labor and skill is involved in manipulating hundreds of them to create a building structure. That kind of skilled labor comes at a cost that can sometimes be too steep for economically disadvantaged populations.

That’s why Mexico-based construction supply company Armados Omega is pursuing a different approach: interlocking, binder-free blocks that don’t require professional builders.

The self-building system, dubbed Block ARMO, is essentially a giant, vertical puzzle. The material uses six different shapes that interlock intuitively to provide a structurally sound final assembly. (Metal rods are inserted at set intervals to provide support.) Because no mixing of concrete or other binding material is required, it’s expected that ARMO could cut construction time in half.

Architect Jorge Capistrán, owner of Armados Omega, says he has built more than 300 rooms in Sierra Negra, Puebla in this fashion, with total costs reduced by over 20 percent. The company is hoping to ramp up production of the blocks to meet housing needs as well as expand the line to provide different colors, accents, and textures.

[h/t Architecture and Design]

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