Wikkelhouse: Tiny house made of cardboard

Lately, more and more people are choosing to downsize the space they live in, by moving into so-called tiny houses. As the name implies, tiny houses are, in fact, tiny, usually somewhere between 9 and 37 square metres (100 to 400 square feet). Wikkelhouse (‘wrapped house’), designed by René Snel and created by Fiction Factory, is a tiny house made from cardboard.

Shigeru Ban is perhaps best known for using cardboard to make houses for the homeless in disaster areas, but Wikkelhouse shows that the material is not only a solution for emergency housing.

Cardboard has many wonderful qualities: it is lightweight, strong and very insulating. A drawback is that it is not water resistant, which is probably why it is often overlooked as a building material.

Wikkelhouse was inspired by cardboard tomato crates, which were so strong they were called ‘indestructible’. René Snel, who designed the machine to make the crates, was challenged by a housing corporation to make a cardboard house in a similar way as the crates.

A huge machine at the back of a truck wraps layers of corrugated cardboard slowly around a mould to create a module of 1.20 metres (3.9 feet) wide. The layers of cardboard are held together by environmentally friendly glue. After one roll of cardboard, a layer of wooden slats is added, which functions as a cavity. Then a second roll of cardboard is wrapped around the mould, giving it a total of 24 layers of cardboard.

Thanks to the glue, the module maintains its shape and strength. Each module weighs about 300 kilograms (660 pounds). Because it is so lightweight, a Wikkelhouse does not need a foundation.

The modules can be attached to each other with the slates. In theory, the house can be made endlessly long by adding modules. One module gives about 5 square metre (54 square feet) of space.

To make the house waterproof, it is finished with a protective film and a shell of wooden slats.

The house is made from virgin cardboard, as recycling paper shortens the fibres and makes it less reliable, but the life expectancy of the house is about fifty years.

You can buy your own Wikkelhouse, though the company only makes 20 houses per year, so there might be a waiting list.

Photos: Fiction Factory