might as well call it “discardboard”

Cardboard. We use it for food packaging, shipping packaging, product packaging… basically everything packaging.

And why not? Cardboard is perfect for packaging. It’s light, it’s strong, and best of all it’s cheaper than a Christmas tree after Christmas. But that’s also the problem. It’s so cheap, that we feel no qualms about wrapping it around anything and everything, only to be discarded days later upon arrival at the next destination. It is the ultimate disposable.

Fortunately, we all know that cardboard can be recycled, and that soothes the eco-guilt in our super-consumer souls.

Unfortunately, that’s a very shallow version of the truth.

It still takes a significant amount of energy to process the cardboard back into pulp, and then return it into a fresh sheet of material. To truly appease the Green Gods for our cardboard sins, it may be worth considering one of the other R’s: reuse. But what can you do with a material that comes in big flat sheets, is light, strong, and plentiful?

I know! Architecture!

Okay, cardboard roofs and beams may be a bit extreme, but cardboard may be the biggest boon to DIY affordable design since sliced trees that have been mashed into pulp and glued together with a corrugated core. With the economy still dragging, some are starting to recognize cardboard as the potent media it is.

Examples of this can be seen in great range of techniques and complexity. Studio Darch, for example, has developed dramatically sculpted walls made from hundreds of layers of laminated cardboard; an undoubtedly time consuming but beautiful process.

At the other end of the spectrum you’ll find work like Paul Coudamy’s, using simple planar elements to develop a small family of modular office pieces. This could allow for some small businesses to get started at an extremely affordable rate, while still maintaining a bit of style and personality.

So come on guys, get with cardboard. Everyone is doing it.

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One response to “might as well call it “discardboard”

  1. Cardboard has made its way into more high-end architecture recently as well. A favorite example of mine is the Rabobank Headquarters (http://www.dezeen.com/2011/07/20/rabobank-headquarters-by-sander-architecten/) by Sanders Architecten in the Netherlands. The cardboard room is located in the building’s main lobby and creates a space for a meeting room. Long rectilinear windows perforate the egg-shaped structure and allow light to permeate to the interior. The room is able to emphasize the cellular nature of the material and mimics its corrugated form in the higher reaches with a large-scale zig-zag. With its use in a major corporations building, it may go to show that this previously discarded material is become legitimized for interior use. As architecture students we’ve often seen the beauty that the cardboard’s corrugation can hold. Why not try and develop it into something that others can appreciate?

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