By Guan Lee, Mohammed Abdelnaby, Jiahe Chen, Junyi Liu, Jianbin Sun, Siyang Zhang, Material Architecture Lab – Paper Team

Connection to Harringay Warehouse District

Harringay Warehouse District historically has been known for the manufacture of bricks, or ‘breeks’. As a discrete unit of assembly, the brick is small enough to be hand-crafted, yet big enough to build a wall, or even a house. The ‘Paper-House’ design proposal explores the expressive potential of recycled paper at the scale of a brick, block and a bale, creating a new material identity for the creative community of Harringay and Hackney.

Proposal Outline

The title ‘Paper-House’ refers to the key construction material for this project and the notion of a communal dwelling. Paper recycling is commonplace but there is a limit to this process, after a few cycles of re-pulping, the cellulose fibres will be shortened beyond reuse. At that point landfill is the only option and to the detriment of our natural ecology. This project brings awareness of paper use and reuse by directing bales of paper destined to contaminate our environment for construction purposes. Paper-House will be constructed entirely out of reclaimed materials, paper and timber. It will also be constructed by local residences using simple building technology. Compressing and lashing together bundles of used paper to form a design language both unique and relatable. The aim of this project is to promote sustainability in design and awareness in local resource depletion. Sustainability in the building industry and architecture in not solely an economic problem. For us, communities of artists and designers can address these difficult concerns alongside social and cultural dimensions of urban life.
The components of ‘Paper-House’ are made of recycled paper, compressed into bricks, blocks and larger bales. The paper is gathered from recycling points in the local community. It is then rolled, folded and refolded into pre-made steel moulds. The paper is then compressed under 10 tons of pressure and the resulting compression of the different types, thicknesses and colours of paper creates a striped and variegated grain not unlike, but different from its original wood. The paper is compressed into bricks, blocks and larger bales. These are connected with steel frames to create a larger rigid column structure supporting a larger roof made of reclaimed timber joists. The composition of paper bale and block creates a multipurpose space capable of hosting different kinds of gatherings, as a market space or a performance space.
From a distance, the pavilion appears as a gate, a wide roof set upon its large paper bale columns. Approaching the pavilion, the assembly of smaller components becomes apparent, and upon entering the space the pattern on the surface of the compressed bricks can be read, revealing their material and process.