Modular Microhome Made of Cardboard Can Last Up to 100 Years (Video)

Tiny house with clear panels in front and doors opened

Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

At first glance, cardboard doesn't seem like a suitable material for building. Yet, we have seen it done, either by award-winning architects using them for large-scale structures, disaster relief housing and even bridges. Dutch design studio Fiction Factory is now offering a microhome constructed out of layered cardboard that they say will last up to 100 years.

A Sturdy Structure

Wikkelhouse living space with a table and some chairs
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Above: Wikkelhouse living space with a table and seating.

Wikkelhouse kitchen with table and stools
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Above: Wikkelhouse kitchen with table and stools.

Wikkelhouse tucked in the trees next to water
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Dubbed the Wikkelhouse (literally "wrapper house"), the home is made out of durable corrugated cardboard that has been glued together with an eco-friendly adhesive.

Large role of corrugated cardboard
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Above: A large roll of corrugated cardboard

Close-up of corrugated cardboard
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

These sandwiched layers are then wrapped around one of the dwelling's modular segments 24 times using a large rotating machine, resulting in a strong and relatively well-insulated assembly.

Wikkelhouse module being built
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

This one 1.2-meter (47 inches) thick, 500-kilogram (1,100 pounds) module can be then combined with other modules to form a larger structure, without the need for a monolithic foundation. The modular design allows for scalability, a flexible layout and ease of customization and assembly.

Installation and Interior

Illustration of a wikkelhouse segment

After transporting the modules to the site, assembly only takes around one or two days to complete. The cardboard is topped with a waterproof, breathable film called Miotex and finished with an open façade cladding system of pine slats. According to the company, Wikkelhouses are expected to last for decades (the Miotex has to be replaced every 30 years); but the modules can be moved anywhere to be reused and are mostly recyclable.

Basic one room wikklehouse on display
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Windows can be added on anywhere.

round window with a toy car on the sill
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Amenities like kitchen, bathroom, and shower are added via "smart home-segments", while the interiors have plywood paneling for the walls, resulting in a minimalist but naturally warm look.

Kitchen counter with an espresso machine, sink, and small cooktop
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Above: Kitchen counter with an espresso machine, sink, and small cooktop.

Mostly empty room with a chair, floor lamp, and round window
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Above: A mostly empty room shows the modern lines of the structure.

wood stove
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Above: Yes, wood stoves can be used in the Wikkelhouse.

View out front window wall
Yvonne Witte / Wikkelhouse

Each module costs approximately USD $4,500, with a completed version of a basic Wikkelhouse expected to cost around USD $80,000. Not only is this an intriguing contemporary design for a microhome, it's a fascinating new way to transform simple cardboard into a strong and insulating material too.

Wikkelhouse was nominated for an ARC15 Innovation Award last year, and the company is now working on an off-grid version. Says Rick Buchter of Wikkelhouse: "Cardboard is so undervalued material. There is no other building material is so light, strong and insulating. Most people think of cardboard as a box or a packet of mail. Each tries himself to reason that it cannot be a cardboard house. But it can be excellent. We are just not used to it yet."