TidBits 014: A paper house

When a rain shower takes us by surprise, it may well be that we find refuge under a newspaper or magazine held open above our heads.

In other instances, homeless persons create temporary havens by using cardboard boxes. But a paper house designed by an architect? Now that’s something we hadn’t seen yet! Well, German engineer Gerd Niemoeller put a remedy to that. At 58 and with the collaboration of the world-renowned Bauhaus University of Weimar, he has perfected alow-cost house destined to change the face of shantytowns worldwide.

Niemoeller is co-founder of the Swiss company The Wall AG, owner of the patent for the materials used in the manufacturing of the paper houses. The intention is to export the machines needed fortheir construction to those countries where the houses will be built. The cost for a 36-sq.-m (387.5sq. ft.) house that can host up to 8 people is of US$ 5,000. The basic materials (manufactured by Swisscell) with which it is made are cellulose recovered from the recycling of cartons and newspapers, mixed with resin. The honeycomb structure that characterizes the inside of the panels that compose the house confers good thermal isolation and lightweight to the house, the entire structure weighing only 800 kilograms (about 1764 lbs.) Resistance to rain is guaranteed.

The project includes all necessary “living” equipment: shower, toilet, benches for sitting, shelves and table. The kitchen wall may be opened, creating ample communication between the inside of the house and outdoors.

Two oil extraction companies in Nigeria have already ordered 2,000 such houses and other African countries have shown interest in this new “frontier of architecture”.

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