Cardboard cathedral – how about cardboard houses?

Friday 20 Oct 2017

Here in New Zealand we have our own cardboard cathedral in Christchurch. And just as architect Shigeru Ban's design was chosen for its speedy, inexpensive construction, so is the Wikkelhouse cardboard house finding favour in Europe.

The Wikkelhouse was launched in April last year and received a lot of publicity – it could be built on site in a day, was cheap, seriously cool, and is said to last 50 years, although some pundits have said it could probably last 100 years.

Turns out the idea has really taken off. The Wikkelhouse company now says there are houses on rivers and rooftops, in nature reserves and cities, and one Wikkelman house is a university classroom in Amsterdam. The company is even developing a Wikkelhouse boutique real estate office in the heart of Amsterdam's business district.

The Wikkelhouse seems especially suited to housing, both full-time residences and holiday homes. Each house is built from 24 layers of top-quality cardboard, which are wrapped around a mould as it is rotated. The layers are bonded together with eco-friendly superglue. "The result is an incredibly robust sandwich," with "exceptional constructive strength", the company says. And, of course, the material is also fully recyclable.

Each house is then wrapped in breathable foil and clad in wood panelling to protect it from the elements. The company is so certain of its durability, it says it will last a "lifetime". Because the house is modular – made from 1.2m segments – it can be extended to any size. You can even change it later, should you want to make it larger or smaller.

But here's the rub. Irma Verschuuren of Wikkelhouse says the house cannot yet be distributed to this part of the world. "We only deliver Wikkelhouses in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, UK and Scandinavia. At this point we are not able to ship to other countries, because shipping and installation costs would be significantly more expensive.

"Within 2 years we will expand our international distribution network, but to tell you the truth we have no idea when Wikkelhouse will come to your part of the world." Perhaps there is scope here for a joint venture? The Wikkelhouse is providing a solution to the housing crisis in other cities, perhaps it could also find a following here. In Europe, you can have one delivered and installed for just €30,000 (just under NZ$50,000).

More>>. For further information and images click here.

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