House of Card
by Don Barker
A new after-school club opened in late 2001 on the east coast of England, in Westcliff on Sea, near Southend, Essex — built almost entirely of cardboard. More than a year after its completion, the award-winning school is still standing and not at all limp. Cardboard made from recycled paper is proving to be an inexpensive and environmentally sustainable building material.
The design team, led by Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, conducted intensive research into the properties of recycled paper as a viable construction material. The resulting Westborough After School Club is the first multipurpose building in the United Kingdom to be made from cardboard. The aim of the team was to use cardboard components wherever possible, with a target of 90 percent recycled materials. They also wanted the building to be 90 percent recyclable at the end of its life.
No stranger to the material, Bath-based Buro Happold had built the Shared Ground Zone in the Millennium Dome using recycled cardboard. The firm also worked with Japanese architect Shigeru Ban on the cardboard Japan Pavilion at the Expo 2000 in Hanover. The engineers wanted to go beyond this experience with temporary structures by exploring the potential for the material as a viable long-term construction product. This meant studying its manufacturing, its constructibility, and its economy. >>>
The Westborough After School Club is built primarily from recycled cardboard.
Photo: Peter Grant Photography
The central truss is wood, but most of the structure is cardboard.
Photo: Buro Happold
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