Paper: The Building Material of the Future

Paper Tubes

With the recent trend of environmentally-friendly building and products, many companies are looking for new ways to create innovative and environmentally friendly products that customers will love and use. One of the most environmentally-friendly products that has been around for ages is paper. Even though paper does consume trees, it is easy to recycle and reuse, and as long as enough new trees are planted, the cycle can continue without end. One recent trend is to incorporate the use of more paper products into non-traditional products, like lighting, clocks, furniture, and now, even entire buildings.

The forerunner of the idea of using paper tubes and other cardboard products to build homes and other buildings is Shigeru Ban. The New Zealander has constructed an entire career around paper buildings, and has built several homes, offices, and even one cathedral out of the paper.

The theory behind these paper buildings is that it is the ultimate building material because it is 100 percent recyclable, and yet sturdy enough to stand up to normal weather conditions with a few additives. All of the buildings constructed by Shigeru Ban are designed to last between 20 and 30 years without needing significant repairs.

Although 30 years seems like a short lifespan for a building, the cost of constructing these structures is so much less than traditional buildings that it is amazing. With just a few thousand dollars, it is possible to build a working building complete with plumbing and electricity.

Shigeru Ban uses unique paper products to create architectural interest in his buildings. One of his favorite materials for supports and columns are large paper tubes. The tubes keep the structures stable, even through conditions like earthquakes, snowstorms, and hurricanes. Shigeru Ban believes that literally living out of a cardboard box is one of the best ways to remain environmentally friendly in the years to come.