The difference in between paper and cardboard is a fluent one. The best way to differentiate the two materials is through their thickness. The thickness of paper can go up to 225 g/m2 where cardboard is defined in the range of 150 g/m2 up to 600 g/m2.
As a comparison conventional printing paper has a thickness of 80g/m2. Paper is made out of different cellulose fibres, through watering and drying the paper again, the sheets get pressed. Due to this relation with water, paper as well as cardboard react with water and dissolve. Both of these materials are also conbustible. Since there are many different kinds of cardboards and papers, material characteristics also vary and are used for different purposes. Corrugated cardboard for example is used for better stability.
Paper / Cardboard
Toilet Paper 10-35 g/m2
Newspapers 35-55 g/m2
Office Paper 80-100 g/m2
Posters, Flyers 130-170 g/m2
Folded Leaflets 170-200 g/m2
Brochure, Magazine Covers 200-250 g/m2
Business Cards 300-350 g/m2
The most conventional method of creating architectural models is cutting. You can do that by using analog tools like scissors, cutters or scalpels, or you use digital tools like laser cutters or cutting plotters.
With the analogous method you must take care that you have a stable underground, a cutting mat and balanced light conditions. If you use a cutter, also use a cutting ruler or similar aid. In addition, one should always try to cut away from the body to prevent injuries.
The digital method distinguishes between laser cutting and cutting plotting. The laser cutter burns the material, leaving traces. The thinner the material, the less traces are created. Cutting plotting uses a blade similar to that of a cutter, so small radii are not possible. In addition, the blade is also slanted, which means that there is always an overlap on the upper side.
stable table surface
balanced lighting conditions
ruler or other cutting guide
Folding is one of the less used methods in model making to manipulate paper. Depending on the goal to be achieved, it is often the simplest method. A big advantage is that the paper gains stiffness and stability through folding. In this way, spatial structures can be created.
Origami is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. The goal is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper.
stable table surface
flat edge, folding bone
Combining water with paper, the original process of producing paper is being inverted. The paper dissolves and through dispersing it a formable mass, namely pulp, developes, which can be used to form models and sculptures. For the mass to stick, one has to add either flour or an other adhesive like glue to the water. After the mass has dried, the form can be further processed with different tools.
Another technique working with wet paper is the paper strips method. Paper stripes, dipped in a mixture of water and glue, are applied layer by layer on an object or an existing frame.
Thomas Demand builds to destroy. His models, created with meticulous care and great craftsmanship, are not meant to last for eternity, not even for the next day. They carry within them the seeds of destruction – between birth and death there are only a few photographs that Demand creates with a sure eye and understands as his real work of art. To achieve this, the sculptor works with paper instead of stone or similar materials, which gives him the flexibility he needs.
For Thomas Demand, paper has the advantage that everyone knows this material and can do something with it. He builds the models in 1:1.
Thomas Demand (Photographer/Artist)
Project / Year
Kontrollraum / 2011
Büro / 1995
Paper + underconstruction
Papiermache techniques have a long tradition in vietnamese craftsmanship. The way this pavillon is constructed is very similar to the way traditional masks of lion heads, in the streets of Hang Ma, Hanoi, are handcrafted. In just 13 days, the pavillon was constructed, with the help of students and the use of 800 bamboo sticks and 1200 sheets of poonah paper. This construction is a celebration of vietnamese craftsmanships, and the organic design is inspired by the cocoon of insects.
This 1:1 model makes the construction and the sherness of the poonah paper tangible. The potential of paper in architecture is stretched to the maximum and reveals the potentials of working with simple materials.
Nguyen Hoa Hiep, a21studio
Project / Year
The paper cocoon / 2016
Peter Märkli, Haus eines Bananenpflanzers, Dominica, 1991
Frank Gehry, Gehry House, Santa Monica, USA, 1982
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Charles Moore, Piazza d’Italia, New Orleans, USA, 1974-1978
Zupagrafika, Novosmolenskaya Housing Complex, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2017
MAC & Cheese Architects + GFA2 + De Vylder Vinck Taillieu, The School of the Clash, Sydney, AU, 2018
Michael Velliquette, Series of sacred architecture models
Karl Wimmenauer, Evangelische Weissfrauenkirche, Frankfurt a.M., D, 1953
Thomas Demand, Badezimmer, Düsseldorf, D, 1997
wikiHow, “How to Cut Cardboard or Balsa Wood for Model Making”, https://www.wikihow.com/Cut-Cardboard-or-Balsa-Wood-for-Model-Making, 31.05.2020
EXCEL IMPEX, Cutter Products, https://www.amazon.in/Cutter-Sticker-Detail-Scrapbooking-Cutting/dp/B07P1T33S5, 31.05.2020
Sweeney, Richard: Yokohama Ferry Terminal, 1994, Foreign Architects, Yokohama, JP.
Sweeney, Richard: 2015, London, UK.
thesprucecrafts, https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/how-to-make-paper-mache-pulp-1245288, 02.06.20
Demand, Thomas: Kontrollraum, 2011
Demand, Thomas: Büro, 1995
Matthew Marks Gallery, Daily #31, https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2018-02-17_thomas-demand/works-in-exhibition/#/images/4/, 31.05.2020.
a21studio, The paper Cocoon, Saigon, Vietnam, 2016, https://www.designboom.com/architecture/a21studio-paper-cocoon-pavilion-vietnam-06-27-2016/, 02.06.20