Experimental Recycled Paper Bale Structure Serves Up Some Surprises

© Dratz&Dratz Architekten

It's not too uncommon to see paper recycled into things like jewelry, wallpaper or even furniture. But it's a bit surprising to see a seemingly flimsy material being used exclusively in a building that actually withstood hard rain and high winds, like this 2,045 square foot temporary workspace in Essen, Germany that's made with 550 bales of recycled paper.

© Dratz&Dratz Architekten

With the aid of a $200,000 grant from Essen’s Zollverein School of Management and Design, Berlin-based architects Ben and Daniel Dratz of Dratz&Dratz Architekten were commissioned to design and construct a new building on an old mining locale (incidentally also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The brothers experimented with large bales of compressed, recycled paper taken from neighbourhood grocery stores which were then stacked to create an unexpectedly well-insulated structure that dried quickly in the sun despite several days of rain.

© Dratz&Dratz Architekten

The moment of initial inspiration came by chance, says Daniel on Inhabitat:

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.

© Dratz&Dratz Architekten

Admittedly, it's not the most photogenic of structures, but these recycled paper bales can also apparently be stacked up to 100 feet high, which has led the brothers to conclude that with more research, there is plenty of potential for recycled paper bales to be used in more permanent and challenging applications in the future. More over at Dratz&Dratz Architekten (in German).

Tags: Architecture | Green Building | Recycled Consumer Goods | Recycling