A Full performance paper house





Paper, construction, building with paper, prototype, emergency shelter, full performance paper house


According to the UNHCR, in 2019 there were 70.8 million refugees worldwide. Due to war, catastrophes,
and emergency situations a great demand for temporary accommodation has arisen within the last
couple of years. The main requirements for these shelters are protection for the inhabitants, easy
transportability, and quick construction. In addition, in terms of resource efficiency, the recyclability of
the construction materials is of great importance. Paper materials have a high potential for this, due to
their strong structure, cost-effective production, and optimised recycling processes.
The following paper presents a case study of a prototype for a temporary paper house that meets
the static and technical requirements for a comfortable and hygienic living space by combining
different paper materials.
The overall objective of this research was the constructive development of building elements made of
paper materials, which meet the requirements for temporary residential use over a period of at least 3
years. The main advantages of using paper materials for this purpose are easy processing, cost-effective
production, and a high probability for its sustainable disposal after usage. The main challenges of the
material are fire protection and moisture protection, which affect the recyclability, as well as the gluing
and joining techniques. An overview of possible solutions for these disadvantages and their applicability
will be demonstrated and discussed.
The paper aims to emphasise that simplicity and performance do not need to be diametrically opposed.
The envelope, which provides all the functions required of a modern building through its multi-layered
structure, represents the performance of this project. Transportation, construction, and joining, on
the other hand, were kept as simple as possible in order to make assembly possible even by unskilled
workers and under very basic conditions.
The paper is divided into four sections. First, the technical and regulatory requirements for temporary
emergency shelters, as well as the decisive characteristics of paper materials are described and
analysed. In the second part, the architectural design and the construction typology are defined. The third
part focusses on the elaboration and evaluation of building elements with regard to joining technologies,
statics, building physics, and production technologies. Finally, the results of the prototype and their
transferability are presented and discussed.



Bach, R. (2021). Papier Fassaden - Entwicklung konstruktiver Prinzipien für Fassaden aus Papierwerkstoffen mit Fokus auf Brandschutz, Wärmedämmung, Feuchteschutz und ökologische Eigenschaften (Translation) (Paper facades - development of constructive principles for facades made from paper materials with a focus on fire protection, thermal insulation, moisture protection and ecological properties). (Doctoral Dissertation. RWTH Aachen). (expected release: 2021)

Friedrich, S. & Kappen, J. (2012). LWF aktuell 89/2012. Freising: Bay. Landesanstalt für Wald und Forstwirtschaft und für das

Zentrum Wald-Forst-Holz Weihenstephan.( Freising: Bavarian State Institute for Forestry and the Center for Forestry

Weihenstephan) https://www.lwf.bayern.de/service/publikationen/lwf_aktuell/012307/index.php

Kanli, E., Bach, R., Götzinger, R., Kiziltoprak, N., Knaack, U., Schabel, S., & Schneider, J. (2019). Case study: development and evaluation methods for bio-based construction realized with paper-based building materials. In 3rd International Conference on Bio-Based Building Materials (ICBBM). Belfast, United Kingdom

Kiziltoprak, N., Kanli, E., Schneider, J., Knaack, U., Bach, R. (2019). Load capacity testing method for non-conventional nodes joining linear structural paper components. In International Conference on Structures and Architecture, 2019, Lisbon, Portugal.

Latka, J. (2017). Paper in architecture. Architecture and the Built Environment. https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/abe/issue/view/547

Niskanen, K., Berglund, L., Carlsson L., Coffin, D. Gustafsson, P., Hägglund, R., Kulachenko, A., Mäkelä, P., Nygards, M., Östlund, S., & Uesaka, T. (2012). Mechanics of Paper Products. Walter de Gruyter GmbH

UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency (2019). UNHCR Global Report. UNHCR. https://www.unhcr.org/globalreport2019/ (24.08.2020)




How to Cite

Wolf, A., Rebecca, B., Nihat, K., Knaack, U., & Wilfinger, M. (2021). A Full performance paper house. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 9(1), 117–130. https://doi.org/10.7480/jfde.2021.1.5533