What if paper could be used as a building material to, say, even build houses? What at first sounds far from reality could actually become possible. At any rate, the TU Darmstadt’s interdisciplinary research group “BAMP! Building with Paper” has been conducting research on this since 2017. As paper is a sustainable material, it offers numerous advantages. It also possesses great potential for bio-based applications.
The technology and systems to build temporary buildings (e.g. schools, emergency shelters or trade fair structures) are in a low development stage in Germany. However, temporary constructions offer many advantages due to their optimised use of material and financial resources. This is the reason why a research group at the Technical University of Darmstadt brought an innovative and sustainable project to life. Its goal is to create the scientific and technical foundations for the use of paper in temporary constructions and in the long term develop new possible solutions. The results were already presented in 2021 at the Venice Architecture Biennale. There, BAMP! was named the best university project by the ECC – European Cultural Centre. In addition, the results of the research project up to now are being presented at the Düren Paper Museum until October 2022.
Generally speaking, paper is rarely used in the building industry because it is most of all sensitive to moisture and easily inflammable.
There are nonetheless several aspects as to why paper could be well suited. Paper can be manufactured at a low cost, it has very good strength properties and can be used in many ways, for example as a flat material, and can even be manufactured as a foam. Moreover, it is relatively easy to chemically functionalise paper.
What’s more, paper and cardboard are manufactured sustainably out of cellulose fibres. These in turn are made out of wood or other plant material and therefore come from sustainable sources. The paper fibres can be reintroduced to the material cycle more than once and thereby be used multiple times. Building materials used nowadays such as concrete or sand are hard to recycle, and most times it is even impossible to do so. Beyond that, the shortage of conventional materials will become more severe in the coming years.
From 6 March to 9 October, the research results are being presented with the help of numerous models and objects in the Düren Paper Museum. Visitors are met with a wide spectrum of things and can discover the properties of the material.
The results demonstrate the material’s properties and the necessary processing technologies and show experimental methods for joining, constructing, shaping and equipping it. The exhibition was curated and developed by the Faculty of Plastic Design of TU Darmstadt’s Department of Architecture.
Ever since its renovation in 2014, the Düren Paper Museum has been showcasing the diverse facets of paper. In addition to a paper workshop in which visitors can get creative themselves, the museum has ever-changing exhibitions. The museum’s exhibitions are divided into five thematic areas. These begin with the history of paper and how it shaped us all. This is followed by the manufacturing process and the accompanying creation of value. The third thematic area is all about visions and why paper can be deemed a universal material. The creation of order and the structuring of society with the help of paper is depicted in the fourth thematic area. The last thematic area leaves the primarily didactic aspiration and rather turns to collections, art and the expression of paper.
The past and future of paper manufacturing come together in Düren, both in the Düren Paper Museum as well as in the Modellfabrik Papier, which has settled not far off – up until now in a coworking space. There, the paper industry is taking the initiative to reach the climate goals of tomorrow.