Architecture

Experimental shelters sport paper-thin walls – literally

Experimental shelters sport pa...
The Agg Hab project was completed in May, 2020
The Agg Hab project was completed in May, 2020
View 7 Images
The Agg Hab project was created for the Oaks Creek Residency, an artist residency on a farm in Texas
1/7
The Agg Hab project was created for the Oaks Creek Residency, an artist residency on a farm in Texas
The Agg Hab has holes cut into its roof to let in light and air
2/7
The Agg Hab has holes cut into its roof to let in light and air
The Agg Hab project was completed in May, 2020
3/7
The Agg Hab project was completed in May, 2020
The Agg Hab shelters measure roughly 20 x 8 ft (6 x 2.4 m) each
4/7
The Agg Hab shelters measure roughly 20 x 8 ft (6 x 2.4 m) each
The Agg Hab shelters are accessed by descending steps cut into the dirt
5/7
The Agg Hab shelters are accessed by descending steps cut into the dirt
The Agg Hab shelters consist of nearly 200 liters (around 50 gal) of non-toxic glue and 270 lb (122 kg) of recycled paper each
6/7
The Agg Hab shelters consist of nearly 200 liters (around 50 gal) of non-toxic glue and 270 lb (122 kg) of recycled paper each
The Agg Hab is likely one the world’s largest self-supporting papier-mâché structures, reckons the team
7/7
The Agg Hab is likely one the world’s largest self-supporting papier-mâché structures, reckons the team
View gallery - 7 images

When you think of papier-mâché, school art projects and carnival floats may come to mind, but a team of architects has used it to create something a bit more ambitious. The team mixed strips of recycled paper and non-toxic glue to create pair of prototype shelters in rural Texas.

The project is named Agg Hab (short for Aggregate Habitat) and was created by i/thee and the Roundhouse Platform for the Oaks Creek Residency, an artist residency on a farm in the Texas Panhandle.

Each shelter measures roughly 20 x 8 ft (6 x 2.4 m), and was made using around 200 liters (50 gal) of non-toxic glue and 270 lb (122 kg) of recycled paper. The team reckons it's probably one the world’s largest self-supporting papier-mâché structures and the construction process will be familiar to anyone who has experimented with with the stuff before.

"The process of construction started with the digging of two mirrored, convexo-concave holes, each 4.5 ft [1.3 m]," explains i/thee. "These holes were then cast with multiple layers of an organic, papier-mâché mixture consisting of various recycled papers and non-toxic glues. Next, the casts were removed from their respective holes and flipped over to form duplicate, bulbous, paper shells, measuring 4 mm [0.15 in] thick and spanning over 20 ft [6 m]. Finally, the shells were each moved on top of the adjacent formwork, letting the inverted form of one hole become a paraboloid cap to the other that encloses the structure. Thus, a 4.5 ft [1.3 m] hole becomes a 9 ft [2.7 m] tall interior space."

The Agg Hab shelters consist of nearly 200 liters (around 50 gal) of non-toxic glue and 270 lb (122 kg) of recycled paper each
The Agg Hab shelters consist of nearly 200 liters (around 50 gal) of non-toxic glue and 270 lb (122 kg) of recycled paper each

The interiors of the shelters consist of one simple large space, with holes in the paper letting in light and air, plus a doorway and steps cut in the dirt for access.

As far as we can tell, this project looks to be purely an exercise in construction experimentation. The firm is clearly keen on experimenting with non-traditional building techniques and has also produced a structure covered in glue-soaked canvas sheets. And we doubt that the shelters are very durable in high winds or rain for example, so probably best viewed as food for thought.

Paper is more popular as a building material than you may assume, at least in cardboard form. We've also reported on a house, homeless shelter and emergency housing, all made from cardboard.

Source: i/thee

View gallery - 7 images
4 comments
paul314
Just btw, at retail, that amount of waterproof glue is about $1500. Cheaper in bulk, no doubt, or you could choose a site where it doesn't rain much. The bit about using a pit for the form is pretty cool, though. Tempting.
Worzel
The pit and cover construction was used by Anglo-Saxons over 1000 years ago, no glue required.
I know rain in Texas is rare, relatively, but at least one of these structures would become a swimming pool if it did rain.
The idea of using papier-mâché, is interesting but not novel. At first glance, from the colour, I thought the article was going to describe shelters built with sand, of which there seems an ample supply in that location, like an ants nest, rather than paper. Maybe that could be their next experiment.
SiteGuy
I'll bet you could make these structures stable and strong by building up thin coats of shotcrete or Gunite. At the end you would be left with a permanent structure that could hold its own in inclement weather. It might be necessary to spray on a waterproofing coating of some kind, just in case.
ventifact
Snakes, scorpions?