Situated in Mumbai’s bustling business district, a café interior made almost entirely from cardboard forces passersby to do a double take. The unique establishment, known as "Cardboard Bombay,” is striking not only for its unconventional appearance but also for its sustainable design. Against the backdrop of ubiquitous glass high-rises and fine-dining restaurants, the playful café serves coffee and casual bites in style while taking advantage of cardboard’s many sculptural and textural qualities. Designed by Nuru Karim, founder of Mumbai-based architectural firm NUDES, the space aims to promote conversation about the role of sustainable design in today’s urban landscape, as well as its impact on the future of Earth’s resources. Cardboard is an eco-friendly alternative to other materials, in that it is 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable. While durable, it is comprised of 50 percent air, making it extremely lightweight and versatile. Cardboard also has excellent sound absorption properties, making it a great acoustic solution for the food industry. Before being able to build with cardboard, NUDES researched the material in depth, which included testing cardboard with humidity, water resistance, and temperature fluctuations. After conducting thorough research, NUDES took to sculpting the café's bespoke furniture, light fixtures, accessories, and architectural elements entirely from cardboard. Designers stacked layers of cardboard to create the base of the chairs, and they laminated the cardboard tabletops—some of which cantilever from undulating cardboard wall partitions—with a wax treatment to prevent food and water damage. Even the walls are crafted from sinuous waves of cardboard fluting that, when layered next to each other, form intricate patterns, textures, and free-flowing geometries. The project took about seven months to complete, including four months of model-making and three months of construction. While Cardboard Bombay is India's first café suited up with cardboard, let's hope that it won't be the last.
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Shigeru Ban, the Pritzker Prize laureate known for his humanitarian work, is lending his design talents to earthquake-ravaged Nepal. Ban's Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) will start by distributing tents that can serve as shelter and medical stations. Then, over the next few months as conditions in the country stabilize, VAN will expand its presence by working with local universities to build housing and community facilities that are based on the prototypes of Ban's other post-disaster work. In a 2013 Ted Talk (below), Ban explains his humanitarian work, which started 20 years ago, when he built shelters made out of recycled paper tubes for Rwandan refugees. https://youtu.be/q43uXdOKPD8 To donate to VAN's current efforts in Nepal, visit Shigeru Ban's website. [h/t ArchRecord]
Installation inverts conventional relationship between architectural models and images.Each year, a group of Pratt Institute graduate students is challenged with pushing the boundaries of exhibition design as they curate the student work from the previous year. "The basic brief is for it not to be a show where it's work on white walls, but that there's an installation component," said Softlab's Michael Szivos, who co-taught the 2014 exhibition course with Nitzan Bartov. The spring show coincides with the publication of Process, a catalog of student projects. "The book shows it in that more normative condition, year by year," said Szivos. "The installation works in tandem with that. The hope is that the students come up with something different." This year Szivos' students passed the test with flying colors, constructing a floating display out of Mylar, medium-density fiberboard, cardboard, and Tyvek that upends the conventional relationship between architectural models and two-dimensional images. Most of the students' initial concepts had to do with producing a cloud-like space, a display surface that would have an interior as well as an exterior. They eventually translated the cloud into a Mylar net that acts as both surface and structure. Architectural models, typically relegated to podiums on the fringes of an exhibition, are given pride of place on integrated MDF platforms perforated with attenuated cardboard tubes. The visual work, in turn, is placed on the ground, positioned as if it is being projected from the suspended tubes. Conventionally, said Szivos, "the hard layer is usually resting on the ground; then you have the visual layer above it. Here, the hard surface is flipped upside down and floating." Visitors access the models by ducking underneath the Mylar cloud, then standing within one of several holes in the bottom surface. "The goal was that the models would actually be seen at eye level," said Szivos. "In this case, it's almost as if it's a city of models. Each zone is a place where the models can be viewed on real architectural terms." A second goal was surprise, which the students achieved by concealing the models behind diamond-shaped Tyvek panels attached to exterior of the net. "You don't know what's inside until you engage," said Szivos. The students engineered the cloud structure using Rhino and Kangaroo. In just two months—the exhibition is timed for Pratt's spring open house—the students finalized the design and decided how to fabricate it. The bulk of the cloud is made of laser-cut Mylar panels fastened together with grommets. Loops at the bottom of the panels secure platforms made of CNC-cut MDF scattered on a sea of sawed-off cardboard tubes, while the Tyvek panels (also laser-cut) are held in place with fashion snaps. The entire installation hangs from a tube frame of galvanized pipe clamped to the gallery's ceiling beams. Time constraints led to a few shortcuts. The students initially intended to develop a projection component, but in the end simply printed most of the two-dimensional images and placed them on the floor. They had also hoped to cover the entire Mylar net in Tyvek, but eventually limited themselves to the lowest rows only. Nevertheless, the project effectively demonstrates the architectural potential of surface-as-structure—in this case, a net weighing under 20 pounds that suspends over 500 pounds of weight. "The surface is a structural skin," said Szivos. "What's nice is that even though it's only attached on the outside, there are still interior spaces."
As a result of a devastating earthquake in February 2011, New Zealand's Christchurch Cathedral was left critically damaged. After an inconclusive debate about whether to completely tear down, restore, or remodel the original Neo-Gothic cathedral, the people of Christchurch were struck with what might be divine inspiration in the form of a temporary home, the world’s only cathedral constructed extensively of cardboard. Tourism New Zealand announced the inauguration of Cardboard Cathedral, a replica of the original church constructed of cardboard tubes, timber joints, steel, and concrete. Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect and a leader in "Emergency Architecture,” designed the transitional church as a testimony to the city’s resourcefulness and resolve following the earthquake and aftershocks. The structure involves a triangular profile constructed from 98 cardboard tubes surrounding a colored triangular glass window in the great hall that features images from the original façade’s rose window, which collapsed completely in December 2011. The main hall has a 700-person capacity for events and concerts. To further incorporate recyclable materials, the temporary cathedral also includes eight steel shipping containers that house the chapels. Designed to last for at least the next two decades, Cardboard Cathedral will remain in place while the original cathedral’s fate is determined. Recently, the rebuilding of the damaged cathedral has been a controversial topic, as critics have already shot down two contemporary designs, deeming them “bizarre” and “architecturally illiterate,” and have called for the building to be restored to its gothic form, originally designed by George Gilbert Scott in the latter half of the 19th Century. Projected to open in December of last year, the Cardboard Cathedral was subject to a sequence of construction delays and was not officially opened until last week. To celebrate the opening of the cathedral and its architectural splendor and acoustic potential, Joyfully Un-Munted, a concert series of opera, jazz and traditional music is being held through August 15, 2013.
The latest Shigeru Ban paper tube building has opened at IE University in Madrid, Spain. Elsewhere, Ban built the paper tube Nomadic Museum in New York City on a Hudson River pier in 2007, a Camper retail store in New York's Soho neighborhood, and now in Christchurch, New Zealand he is constructing an A-Frame cathedral out of the temporary, eminently efficient material. The Madrid University building took only two weeks to build, is based on sustainability objectives, and there was a requirement that it be a temporary construction. It is made of 173 paper tubes held together by timber joints that rest on paper columns. “One of the main challenges in any project is that the design must take into consideration the specific characteristics of the location. In this case, we used an existing wall and kept the pavilion as far as possible from the adjacent building,” Shigeru Ban said in a statement. “I try to use local firms for my work. In this case the tubes, for example, were made in Zaragoza.” Shigeru Ban also pointed out that students from IE School of Architecture took part in assembling the paper tubes, and underscored how important it was as an educational experience for them.
For most architecture students, a model malfunction won't land you in the middle of a river, but one group of Buffalonian risk takers at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, under the direction of Associate Professor Jean La Marche were up for the challenge. Students Troy Barnes, Stephen Olson, Scott Selin, and Adrian Solecki designed and installed half of a bridge—made of cardboard—cantilevered over the Buffalo River, and invited people to step out over the water. The frightening experiment worked, challenging conventional notions of material constraints. The small structure was built from locally-produced cardboard tubes and is held up using rollers, pulleys, and ropes tied back to disused rails on the site. A supporting frame on a boat used to position the structure "lent the whole operation a nautical feel, fitting with the site," a spokesman for the team said in a statement. "With one of us on the raft, one manning the ropes, two were left to do the heavy work of pushing the cantilever out six inches at a time. After forty-five minutes, the structure dropped over the edge into place." The Buffalo Rising blog visited the installation, even venturing out onto the cardboard cantilever, and has more photos and observations.
Water Names. Is it a creek, a stream, or a cañada? Looking for patterns behind different names for American waterways, graphic designer Derek Watkins created an infographic that plots more terms for water than we've heard of revealing the cultural geography of language. More at Co.Design. Pop-Up Religion. In February, an earthquake destroyed Christchurch, New Zealand and now Shigero Ban has been invited to design a temporary church for the city. His design takes cues from his popular Paper Dome Church that once stood in Kobe, Japan, incorporating recyclable materials such as "cardboard tube buttresses" and shipping crates in the foundation. Gizmodo has details. Architecture + fashion. Fashion Week in New York is quickly approaching, and we're excited about the second annual Building Fashion event, taking place this year in our headquarter neighborhood of TriBeCA. Five architecture teams are collaborating with fashion designers to create original temporary installations for couture design.
Ancient art once again finds itself an inspiration for new solutions. Borrowing principles from the art of Japanese paper folding, USC School of Architecture grad Tina Hovsepian invented Cardborigami, a temporary and ultra-portable shelter that can be used by the homeless or those stricken by natural disasters. The shelter is made from standard corrugated cardboard, a lightweight and cost effective material. Incorporating a consistent pattern of x’s and parallel lines, Tina created a structure that can fold down for portability, but also open up to create the makeshift “walls” of the shelter.Currently in the R&D phase, Hovsepian envisions Cardborigami as waterproof, fire-retardant and even wholly recyclable. She’s testing the current iteration with a by-product of sugar cane, which renders paper waterproof but still non-toxic and recyclable. Tina is also organizing a non-profit around her invention, which she wants to open in January. She already has a manufacturing company on her team and a few possible board members in mind, including a social entrepreneur who has offered to help distribute her product. If you have anyone else in mind, I’m sure Tina (and the approximately 660,000 homeless in the country) would love to hear from you.