Most people believe cardboard is the mundane material that is used to make boxes, after which, carelessly thrown away. Yet, this thin shell structure, made by the professor and students at University of Minnesota, along with help of MATSYS, uses that exact material to produce a walkway installation for the school. The students completed the project within a 4-day workshop focusing on parametric/thin shell structures, student team design competition, fabrication, and assembly.
The hex shell deals with the design aspect of parametric process. Using tools provided by MATSYS, the students generated the form in response to the circulation of the area. To guide and reinforce circulation, dimensions of the structure coincide with traffic flow and usage density.
The structure itself challenges the conventional thinking of materials and their properties. The team uses cardboard, which is very deformable and often lack aesthetics appeal. However, knowing the limits of the material being utilized, the design exploits the properties and compensates for the weakness. Throughout the installation process, the team used the cardboard’s ease of manipulate as an advantage in terms of assembly and reshaping. In the final product, the design utilizes a method of folded plate to compensate for lack of structural integrity. In doing so, the structure is not only reinforce but also provided the units with attaching point for construction.
The overall effect allowed the cardboard material to become much more aesthetically pleasing while retaining its unique characteristics. With the addition of openings that follow the logic of each specific unit, the design gains the element of light, weight reduction and more effect use of material. The design strategies being exhibited are innovative ways to respond to the sustainability and reusability problems faced today.