From upcycled shipping containers to concrete pipes, we love seeing architects find new and clever ways to turn discarded materials into functional structures. Designed by architects Ben and Daniel Dratz of Berlin, this “Paper House” is a 2,045 square foot temporary workspace composed of 550 bales of compressed, recycled paper sourced from area supermarkets. The brothers won a $200,000 grant from Essen’s Zollverein School of Management and Design (ZSMD) to build the structure on the grounds of a former mining complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dratz&Dratz Architekten’s Paper House showcases the durability and utilitarian appeal of recycled paper as a building material. “Rather unexpectedly, we passed by a recycling station and saw these bales of used paper. We were fascinated by the structural variety and by the fragments of compressed information – like traces of society. Later we discovered that these bales could be layered and stacked to form monolithic walls, and we recognized the potential for architectural projects.” said Daniel Dratz.
While constructing the workspace in Essen, Germany they found that they could pile the bales up to 100 feet high. The compressed paper was also amazingly good at keeping out moisture during a wet winter. The untreated bales formed what the brothers refer to as a “lamellar barrier”, which was able to withstand several days of rain and dried quickly in the sun. Although the Paper House was meant to be temporary, the brothers are hoping to continue with their experiments with compressed paper for more permanent projects in the future.