paper architecture

Published by Basilio on

Ingrid Siliakus he dedicated himself to the creation of paper structures, an art that is known as 'paper architecture'. He first saw this technique with a Japanese professor, Masahiro Catani, who developed a way to use leaves to make 3D structures in the 1980s.

Ingrid started learning about this method in the 2010s and today she is able to create great leftovers from simple paper. In the following paragraphs we will explain what it is and how it makes it possible.

paper architecture 1

paper architecture

Its forte are multi-storey buildings —some more than 10— and abstract sculptures inspired by the works of MC Escher, an artist, or Antoni Gaudi, an architect. Ingrid makes models of buildings or miniature sculptures using any kind of sheet. During this process, he is able to design up to 20-30 prototypes of the final version of the project, being cheap, easy, and fast thanks to his years of experience.

In the first place, he dedicates himself to drawing the sketch without many details; then add a mixture of layers little by little, until you get the result you want. Once finished, he folds the prototype or cuts it up to use as a reference model for the final archetype. The weight of these structures is really low, they range between 160-300 gr, so it is a highly demanded task.

Siliakus points out that, to become good at this skill, she had to develop the skills of an architect, for two-dimensional design; and the patience of a medical surgeon, in order to create the three-dimensional wonders. Being efficient and professional, many companies have hired her.

How to use paper as a construction material without damaging it?

Paper is a traditional element, whose origin dates back to the first abstract cultural manifestations. However, it does not only apply to writing down facts, memories, and more; Other cultures have used it to design three-dimensional models or add it as an essential part of a home (in its decoration or structure).

Keep in mind that today's paper is made from 'cellulose pulp' made from vegetable fiber pulp, which is crushed and dissolved in water. In this way it creates an 'agglutination' reaction, formed thanks to the hydrogen bonds.

Once it hardens, they add other elements, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, to make it moldable. Thus, people like Ingrid Siliakus can develop structures with paper.

How do other cultures use paper in architecture?

There are many nations that used paper for their buildings, among them we have:


Leaves began to be used for Japanese houses, more specifically in the design of spaces. In this way, the architects created 'fusuma', certain enclosures that were made in the interior carpentry of houses or businesses.

Together with the 'tatami', the fusuma are construction elements made from vegetable fibers; the fusuma is created by rice, and the tatami by means of reeds. These make them eco-friendly, from their preparation to their application.

It is an advantage that they are made from organic products, since they are absorbent and insulating by nature. For example, the tatami is capable of retaining just over 500cc of steam, thus regulating the hygrothermal conditions of the home more effectively. But this is not all, the paper collects harmful substances from the air, including bad odors.


Due to the great scientific advance in the United States and its coronation as the largest receiving country for foreigners —in terms of labor—, a site for the development of constructive, creative, and economic solutions is cataloged. However, they could never have created it without the support of other nations.

One of its most demanded products is 'oiled paper', an ultra cheap material used in carpentry constructions. First they take a low-quality paper and grease it. Thus it becomes a 'waterproof paper', which, with the passing of days, becomes hard.

This material is used to make squares or paper boards, which will serve to complement advantages and doors of homes.


Wallpaper made its debut in Asia, however, it gained momentum in the 19th century. XVII in Europe due to colonialism and trade routes that opened between West and East. After the industrial revolution, architects began to use it frequently, considering that its production cost is low. Nowadays it is more used in the United Kingdom, especially when we talk about William Morris, whose designs have gained millions of views around the world on social networks.

What are the advantages of using paper in architecture?

The greatest benefit of using paper is its thermal insulation, the result of cellulose, which is obtained from vegetable fibers from wood and other recycled materials. However, what makes it the perfect insulator? Its internal porous structure, of 'occlusal pore'.

Keep in mind that the size of the pore determines the quality of the insulation, the larger it is, the more effective the material is at regulating the environment. For this reason, companies such as Thermofloc, Climacell, and Isocell are developing proposals for thermal insulation made from paper.

Experts tend to use it because of its chemical compatibility; that is, it does not damage the structure or surrounding objects. On the contrary, it enhances them. On the other hand, it is easily molded to create constructive solutions similar to those of wood. Its only difference is that it is an easy material to manipulate.

paper architecture 2

At this point, remember that there are many ways to use paper. One of the most frequent is to use it with another material, as in the case of brick. Putting them together will create a block of paper with excellent thermal properties. This will allow many euros to be saved on heating per year.

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Categories: Architecture


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