Most of us use paper to write notes on, or to print those hard copies of our work on, or to wrap a birthday present in. But paper, in the hands of some, can be strong enough to make your house from.

Shigeru Ban Paper House, 1995. That’s not an exhibit or a pretend house, it’s a house, with paper walls.

This is a church he made of paper for the people of Kobe Japan just after a bad earthquake. Mr Ban is not showing off. He believes in, and has proven, the strength and durability of paper, something that is plentiful, inexpensive, and recyclable. This was reassembled in Taiwan.

Apparently he got the idea first when invited to develop the exhibit design for a show of Alvar Aalto’s furniture at the MOMA in 1986. He was asked to try and match the beautiful wood of the chairs. The idea of the wood being thrown away after the exhibit bothered him, and he proposed paper instead. He was right, and it was beautiful.

In my home town, a pair of very talented architects set up a product design company called molo, and one of their nifty products is the soft wall–it’s lightweight, it compresses for storage, and it’s very nice to look at. It’s made of paper stuck together like the crepe paper garlands used to decorate the gym.

It comes in a lighted version as well. It is worth checking molo’s website just to look and smile: they have made films of these products being put up. I would start here and click on view films.

Architect David Penner did this, found at from pleatfarm

Another view. Really nice with the snow, I think. Known as corogami.

This is at Cambridge, England, a temporary place on the lawn for party. Made of paper. The designers are called Bricolage

There’s the band inside the paper pavilion.

And here’s some swell paper furniture.

A papier mache loveseat, Cute by one Xiaoli Dai, seen at coroflot here.

And while not strictly something you could live in or sit on or walk around in, looking for Paper Architecture online will bring you fairly soon to this:

Amazing paper sculptures by Ingrid Saliakus. Much more to smile at here.

But back to the work of Shigeru Ban.

This house designed by him on Long Island NY is not made of paper. I don’t even know if there is a single piece of paper in it.

But what it shows is that Mr Ban has a genius for doing more with less, whatever the material. As such he qualifies as an honoured member of the AIRofL

I should note that the term paper architecture has been used most often to refer to architecture that only exists on paper. The client ran away, maybe, or it was a creative exercise by the architect. Here are a couple I like.

Residential project (apartments??) 1952 unbuilt in Florida by Paul Rudoph

Ralph Rapson “Greenbelt House” Case Study House No. 4, unbuilt for California, See here.

But maybe paper architecture is anything wonderful made by an architect on paper.

Tadao Ando Print “Rowhouse” from here.

Tadao Ando, Theatre in the Rock. print. made in 1998. on paper, architecture.