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OFF THE WALL: Designing Outside the Box with Cardboard

Thursday, May 31, 2012

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Maybe living in a cardboard box is a little out of the question, but how about utilizing a low-impact, inexpensive material, like cardboard, in your designs?

Maybe it’s a way to turn the “thinking outside the box” adage into “thinking about the box,” if you will.

 Shigeru Ban’s Paper Tea House, London, 2008.
 Shigeru Ban’s Paper Tea House, London, 2008.

Design concepts and developments featuring cardboard are not new. Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect, has spoken out as a pioneer for paper as a basic building material for many years. Some of his most recent work can be seen in the interior and exterior of the Camper shoe store in New York City.

Other work in Ban’s portfolio includes the Paper Tea House in London. The house is made of square paper tubes, walls connected by a steel rod, and a roof made of forded paper, according to Ban’s description of the project on his website. The floor and most of the furniture was also constructed using the same square paper tube profile.

According to an article in Interior Design Source, Could Cardboard Interiors Really Stack Up?, Mick Eekhout, the author of “Cardboard in Architecture,” said protective coating materials can help the surface last.

“Cardboard itself is a hydroscopic material. This means that it will absorb moisture from the atmosphere, which can significantly impact on its strength,” said Eekhout. “It if is allowed to become wet, cardboard deforms and ultimately degrades to pulp.”

So if you decide to get on board with cardboard (sorry we had to) as a building material, be sure to factor in a waterproofing coating product and fire-retardant material to bolster the design’s durability and safety.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Coatings technology; Design

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