Cardboard has recently witnessed a surge in popularity as a building material, best exemplified by Shigeru Ban's cardboard "Transitional Cathedral"--the latest of the architect's similar experiments with the material. Ban elevates cardboard beyond its humble origins and pushes it to its structural limits, achieving an airy space that approaches the solidity and textured palette of the stone cathedral it will replace. For Ban, cardboard's regular availability and material pliancy give it a versatility that enable it to be applied across nearly all architectural typologies and scales. Even better, any cardboard structure can be easily replaced or dismantled then recycled for other purposes for, say, a bespoke office space.
Designed for Nothing Avertising Agency by Joost van Bleiswijk and Alrik Koudenburg, the cardboard office consists of several modular units situated within a white box apartment in Amsterdam. The designers devised a "no glue, no screw" construction method--whereby spatial objects are collapsed onto two-dimensional components and lasercut with notches so they can be slotted together-- to create a trellis, desks, bookshelves, stairs, and a conference room. The ubiquitous 15 mm honeycomb cardboard proves rather accommodating to foreign materials and electrical systems, with glass panes inserted into the wafer-thin walls and track lighting embedded on the underside of the beams and plants. Retro knickknacks such as an hourglass and Mac Plus and wistful touches like the pockets of cartoonish graffitti fill out the space and complement the faux-industrial details of the cardboard columns and beams. Each of the pieces can be easily and cheaply replaced when the inevitable coffee spillage occurs. Start saving up those UPS boxes!
All photos: Joachim Baan