Unit(ed): Cardboard StructuresUnit(ed): Cardboard StructuresUnit(ed): Cardboard Structures

Unit(ed): Cardboard Structures

Design a two-dimensional cardboard unit which, when produced in serial (100 units), is a versatile modular unit for creating architectural structures and space.

Tell me more: The modular unit is a powerful building block. This activity challenges students to begin by studying precedents: Bricks, CMU block, straw bale housing, scaffolding, and geodescic domes, as well as graphic units: tesselations, textile patterns and repeat geometry. Ask students to find, examine, and report back to the class on one building unit and how it works individually and in serial. Questions to answer: What makes a building unit structurally sound as a single unit, and how does its stacking/combining in serial make it stronger? What geometries are most versatile or stable in multiple configurations?

Using this knowledge, students begin by sketching in two dimensions. Draw geometric shapes that, in cardboard, could connect to other units using stacking, slotting, or other connection points.

Next, prototype a few of these potential units by cutting six of each unit. Test their ability to connect, stand, create space and structure. The goal is to design and refine one unit to be produced in multiples that might create a sturdy, strong, beautiful architectural structure.

Once the unit has been designed, cut one out in cardboard and use it as a template to trace and cut a total of 100 units. This should be a done as a group. It sounds like a lot, but will teach patience, repetition, focus, craft, and care of production.

Going further: Design challenges! Use all 100 units to construct the tallest structure possible. Use all 100 units to create an archway. Use all 100 units to design an enclosing structure to house one of your team members.