The paper and cardboard industry, just like the building industry, is a long-established business sector with considerable knowledge and experience. Apart from the honeycomb door and paper-based round column formwork, there are few contacts between the two industries. But architects have made many attempts, further back in the past and also more recently, to use cardboard as a building material.
~1930 – paper house, USA
~1970 – temporary accommodation, TU Delft
~1980 – two temporary theatres, Apeldoorn
~1990 – temporary accommodation Japan, Shigeru Ban
~2000 – Japanese pavilion, Hanover, Shigeru Ban
What is characteristic of these attempts is that experience and knowledge acquired during the work threatens to become lost because there is no framework for systematic collection, processing and development of relevant information.
Despite the poor image of cardboard, projects by such architects as Ban, Eekhout and recently the interior of Scherpontwerp in Eindhoven show that cardboard is an architecturally attractive material that also has good structural and acoustic properties. Cardboard, with all the accompanying knowledge already present in the mature cardboard industry, has the potential to become a valuable element of the architectural repertoire. Each (building) material has its own characteristics which generate specific applications in the building industry.
Cardboard consists of ~90% endlessly recycled material and, following use, can be recycled again to a degree of ~90%. Moreover it is cheap. These two properties allow the material to be viewed in a different light, in contrast to the traditional approach in the building industry of applying materials economically and efficiently. The option of throwing the material away once it has reached the end of its life – without harming the environment – creates another perspective on sustainability.
The Department of Building Technology at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft plans to study and develop cardboard as a potential building material on a broad, systematic and where possible comprehensive basis. The guiding research question here is:
“How can cardboard be used in both architectural and structural terms as a fully fledged building material, making use of the material-specific properties?”
An exploratory phase from 2003 to 2005 – including an outdoor pilot structure (multished), a pilot pavilion accommodating an exhibition, workshops on resistance to fire and to damp, a first patent (KCPK), the design of an interior wall (Besin), two MSc students and the publication of the exploratory booklet Cardboard Architecture – was concluded by an international symposium attended by both the paper industry and the building industry. This publication comprises the report on that symposium.
In making this publication possible, special thanks goes out to Prof. Richard Horden (Technische Universität München), Prof. Chris McMahon (University of Bath), Prof.dr. Joop Paul (NL) Delft University of Technology, who reviewed the capters and gave constructive and usefull comments in order to improve the overall quality.
Prof. Fons Verheijen