Fiction Variety

The Cardboard Structure

Shigeru Ban and Michael Hansmeyer teach us the architectural wonders that can be done only with cardboard…

Hi, in the eagerness to find a location suitable for my future construction these last few days I have been traveling the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, I know it is soon yet, and I’m only beginning to gather information on materials and construction systems that it help me in the construction… you know I have not patience. I will keep you informed.

In other time, a such Galileo Galilei had demonstrated that all bodies fall at the same speed regardless of their weight (he was contradicting a such Aristotle), I have tried to make a strong structure and costly with a weak and economic material. «Have you gone crazy, Rodolfo?», you may question, but you know that I never would fall in the dementia without to be well illustrated, and in this case, by two Eminences of the architecture. But now we come to the point (as I like this expression!).


The Sixth Stop: The Cardboard Structure

The Japanese Shigeru Ban (prize winner of Pritzker 2014), has several projects in which he has shown us how with a material that it is as economical as the cardboard can do versatile and exquisite structures. Thus, he has delighted us in the Pavilion of Japan of the Expo 2000 in Hanover with a lighter structure that it lets large and bright spaces for the exhibition, in 2005 we were surprised with a structure that solved the cover and the space inside a temporary Museum that toured New York, California, Tokyo and Mexico (there are aircraft that cannot flying even half) and in the year 2012 was the realization of Pavilion Garage in the Gorky Park of Moscow… with a few pillars of cardboard that make you want to hug!!


But my favourite structure of Shigeru Ban is one that was built in 2013 in Madrid, Spain, and which had the collaboration of the studio «Serrano Suñer Arquitectura», also it is important to note that in the task are involved the students of the school of architecture (new blood). The building are «IE Paper Pavilion», a temporary facility that it was made in just twelve weeks and that, although it was intended for the Executive Education activities, also has hosted of several events as «ELLE Talks», organized by «ELLE magazine».

The structure is composed by 173 paper tubes joined by knots of wood which, in turn, it rest on columns of cardboard. The surface that covers the Pavilion is 110 m2 with a cover of 30 m2 outdoor. The tongue-and-groove is the union between the cardboard tubes (230 mm in diameter and 20 mm thick) and the laminated wood. The tongue-and-groove: the materials have outgoing and incoming, and with the fit, it forms a perfect union for efforts transmission. The screws give the possibility of quick and easy disassembly. This structure transmits tensions through 30 metallic tensors.

IE Paper Pavilion


If I’ve managed to capture your attention, you do not miss now!, that it come the best!!

The German Michael Hansmeyer has done a cardboard columns with a informatics beauty, and I don’t say «informatics» for a whim, I, consciously, I say this and I explain why. Michael is an architect and programmer, with the combining their two skills has created a column using an algorithmic system (ordered set of operations to find the solution to a problem) and a computer program, clear.

We will imagine that we fold a sheet of paper into four parts, and then we do the same again, and again and… come a time in which the chances of design are thousands if we cut those layers by different zones and stack. Mr Hansmeyer and his team has made this, basically, they make subdivisions in layers of cardboard of 1mm wide, then stack along of an axis and thus they create columns that are impossible to create handmade, and impossible to imitate.


The cardboards were cut by three laser cutters operating in parallel, in total it did more of 20 kilometers of cuts. The columns have 2,70 meters high and are consist of 2700 units. I challenge you to do an identical freehand drawing…

The Cardboard

The best of the cardboard is that it is an economical material, easy to replace, is a basic material and that it generates no residues. Its industrialization is so widespread that you can practically to find factories engaged to the manufacture of this material in any region of the world.

The necessary tests when using the rolls of cardboard as a structure in construction are the water absorption of the material, the resistance to compression and traction test and the resistance tests to torsion. Fundamental: the cardboard tends to the absorption of fluids, so it will be essential a protective varnish.

At this point I guess that you have guessed my idea: create a structure whose base is of cardboard and whose forms are modeled with the algorithmic system of the subdivision. Really, would you not like one as well? I’ll have one, sure. Bye bye.

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