Design crush: The paper house

Thursday 17 Apr 2014

Here is a little shack in Gothenburg, Sweden, whose facade is covered in glossy black-and-white marbled corrugated paper not even an inch thick. Based on the proportions of a Swedish friggebod, a tiny shed that requires no planning permission to build, the Chameleon Cabin was designed by architect Mattias Lind at White Arkitekter for printing company Göteborgstryckeriet (in collaboration with brand agency Happy F + B).

The printing company asked the designer to come up with a project that would showcase the possibilities of the printing process. "The fundamental idea was to see what a printing company can do," Lind said. "Can we build a house with our machines and our materials?"

The architect answered with a resounding yes in the form of 95 modules made of extra-stiff Miniwell corrugated paper that fit together to form a 7-square-metre, nearly 3-metre-high, 100-kg "house" with a gabled roof. The flexible structure can be extended if desired by 60 or so metres. Photoshopped images of marble were used to create a white Italian Carrara marble pattern on one side of the house's accordion-like folds and black marble on the other.

"We asked ourselves if we could use their knowledge and printing capacity to make it look like anything we want," Lind said, rejecting the idea of metal and deciding that wood would be too literal as it's already a source material for paper.

While he said that the building is stable once the modules are slotted together, it's obviously more of an exercise in style than a viable housing option, given that it would not stand up to rain or other elements. The Chameleon Cabin, named as such because its bi-coloured folds make it appear either black or white depending on the angle, is currently used at trade fairs and other promotional events.

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