Comparative Analysis of Paper-based Building Envelopes for Semi-permanent Architecture

Original Proposals and Suggestions for Designers


  • Agata Jasiolek 1 Faculty of Architecture, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology
  • Jerzy Latka Faculty of Architecture, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology
  • Marcin Brzezicki Faculty of Architecture, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology



building envelope, paper in architecture, semi-permanent architecture


The presented article is a review of building envelope designs where paper-based products are used as the main material. Paper-based products, especially honeycomb panels and corrugated cardboard provide good thermal insulation properties, affordable prices, and relatively low environmental impact. Paper as a building material has been occasionally used in building envelopes in the past several decades, however, no extensive research has been made on this topic. This study aims to organise knowledge about the design of paper envelopes and help designers in making deliberate and environmentally responsive decisions. Seven different envelope designs were described, evaluated, and compared to each other, three of which were designed by the authors of this article. Particular attention was given to their structure, selection of materials, method of protection against external conditions, thermal insulation properties, and resistance to destructive factors. Based on this analysis, tendencies in designing envelopes made of paper-based materials were described and guidelines for designers were formulated. According to the analysed case studies, the most important factors in semi-permanent paper-based envelope design were indicated. These factors include the core with high thermal resistance, durable protective layer combined with additional impregnation or membrane, and paper core ventilation system.


Asdrubali, F., Pisello, A. L., D’Alessandro, F., Bianchi, F., Fabiani, C., Cornicchia, M., & Rotili, A. (2016). Experimental and numericalcharacterization of innovative cardboard based panels: Thermal and acoustic performance analysis and life cycle assessment.Building and Environment, 95, 145–159.

Ayan, Ö. (2009). Cardboard in architectural technology and structural engineering: A conceptual approach to cardboard buildings in architecture (Doctoral Thesis, ETH Zurich). ETH Zurich.

Brzezicki, M. (2014). Redundant transparency: The building’s light-permeable disguise. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 31, 299–321.

Câmpean, T., Peiu, N., Gavrilescu, D.-A., & Gavrilescu, M. (2020). Environmental Impact of a Residential House Using Cardboard Waste as Construction Material.

Čekon, M., Struhala, K., & Slávik, R. (2017). Cardboard-Based Packaging Materials as Renewable Thermal Insulation of Buildings:Thermal and Life-Cycle Performance. Journal of Renewable Materials, 5(1), 84–93.

Cripps, A. (2001). Constructing a prototype cardboard building. Westborough School Design Guide. Buro Happold.

Cripps, A. (2004). Cardboard as a construction material: A case study. Building Research & Information, 32(3), 207–219.

Crowther, P. (2000). Developing Guidelines for Designing for Deconstruction. Presented at the Deconstruction - Closing the Loop, Watford.

Eekhout, M. (2008). Cardboard in Architecture. IOS Press.

Heyden, A. von der, & Lange, J. (2017). Assessment of the utilisation of corrugated cardboard as a core material for sandwich panels. Ce/Papers, 1(2–3), 1716–1725.

Latka, J. F. (2017). Paper in architecture: Research by design, engineering and prototyping. A+BE | Architecture and the Built Environment.

Meer, C. van der. (2013). Developing the W-house, the world’s first house made from wrapped cardboard. Delft University of Technology.

Nowak, P., & Brzezicki, M. (2020). Façade concrete with glass fibre: the most important technologies and an overview of good practices illustrated through selected examplesand. Builder, 280(11), 32–35.

Oral, G. K., Yener, A. K., & Bayazit, N. T. (2004). Building envelope design with the objective to ensure thermal, visual and acoustic comfort conditions. Building and Environment, 39(3), 281–287.

Pečur, I. B., Bagarić, M., & Milovanović, B. (2020). Development and Application of a Prefabricated Façade Panel Containing Recycled Construction and Demolition Waste. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 8(2), 101–126. jfde.2020.2.4788

Russ, A., Schwartz, J., Boháček, Š., Lübke, H., Ihnat, V., & Pažitný, A. (2013). Reuse of old corrugated cardboard in constructional and thermal insulating boards. WOOD RESEARCH, 7.

Sadineni, S. B., Madala, S., & Boehm, R. F. (2011). Passive building energy savings: A review of building envelope components.Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15(8), 3617–3631.

Salavatian, S., D’Orazio, M., Di Perna, C., & Di Giuseppe, E. (2019). Assessment of Cardboard as an Environment-Friendly Wall Thermal Insulation for Low-Energy Prefabricated Buildings. In A. Sayigh (Ed.), Sustainable Building for a Cleaner Environment: Selected Papers from the World Renewable Energy Network’s Med Green Forum 2017 (pp. 463–470). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Sandak, A., Sandak, J., Brzezicki, M., & Kutnar, A. (2019). Bio-based Building Skin. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

Schonwalder, J., & Rots, J. G. (2007). Cardboard an innovative construction material. In T. R. Naik, E. Ganjian, Y.-M. Chun, & P. Claisse (Eds.), Sustainable Construction Materials and Technologies: Proceedings of the Conference on Sustainable Construction Materials and Technologies, 11-13 June 2007, Coventry, United Kingdom (1st Edition). London: CRC Press.

Secchi, S., Asdrubali, F., Cellai, G., Nannipieri, E., Rotili, A., & Vannucchi, I. (2016). Experimental and environmental analysis of new sound-absorbing and insulating elements in recycled cardboard. Journal of Building Engineering, 5, 1–12.

Vaccari, M. (2008). Environmental Assessment of Cardboard as a Building Material. Oxford Brookes University.




How to Cite

Jasiolek, A., Latka, J., & Brzezicki, M. (2021). Comparative Analysis of Paper-based Building Envelopes for Semi-permanent Architecture : Original Proposals and Suggestions for Designers. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 9(2), 47–72.