Building With Paper

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Earth911 recently featured a story on the creative and resourceful way of building using glass bottles. From early 1900 American mining towns to modern-day Thai Buddhist temples, the glass bottle has proven a useful medium for handfuls of crafty architects worldwide.

The walls of The Paper House are made of newspapers, the text of which is still readable in many spots today.

The walls of The Paper House are made of newspapers, the text of which is still readable in many spots today. Photo: Paperhouserockport.com

Could this idea of building using everyday recycled resources be applied to paper as well? Glass is a plentiful resource, fairly strong by design, retains its color over time, is easy to clean and provides great natural lighting to a space.

But paper? Paper is highly flammable, molds with exposure to moisture and is not considered to carry the same sturdiness as other construction materials.

Enter The Paper House in Rockport, Mass. Made largely out of newspaper, The Paper House, constructed by mechanical engineer Elis Stenman in 1922, was built as a hobby to be used as a summer home. Though the home does utilize wood for framing, roofing and flooring, it uses newspaper for insulation, walls, drapery and furniture.

Other buildings have popped up using various forms of paper design, from papercrete blocks to cardboard. The Cardboard House, built by University of Sydney architects in Australia, is a fully recyclable house that was built complete with its own water collection and composting systems.

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban uses paper tubes in design. Photo: www.kultureflash.net

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban uses paper tubes in design. Photo: Kultureflash.net

If living in a home constructed of paper isn’t high on your priority list, consider adding some paper furniture to the mix instead.

Way Basics has designed its sturdy zBoard, a furniture building block made of 99 percent post-consumer recycled paper. The product is durable enough to last for years. Afterward, it can then be recycled into new product.

Other artists have found creative uses for paper in furniture and design. Boston-based Artists for Humanity hires teen artists as apprentices to produce eco-friendly art and furniture.

Its line of ReVision Furniture features tables made entirely from reclaimed magazines or junk mail. Finished with a non-voc eco-friendly and water resistant resin, the tables become functionable and easy to clean.

This article is part of Earth911.com’s Building With series.

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