A metal building can be made out of cardboard, paper and even wood, thanks to a clever hack by a man with a passion for building.
John Mueller, a Toronto-based architect and urban designer, is a pioneer of what’s called the “multi-layer fabrication method,” or MTM, for making multi-layered structures out of materials such as cardboard, wood and fabric.
Mueller’s project is the result of a year-long collaboration with local architecture firm The Woodworks, which he co-founded in 2012 with former Toronto councillor Joe Cressy.
The two-story building is made out out of a variety of plywoods, plywood boards and other materials, including some recycled from old office buildings.
“I’ve always been interested in building and architecture and I think it’s an interesting field that is really underappreciated,” Mueller told CBC Toronto.
“The whole idea behind the building is that you use a mixture of recycled materials to build the building, which allows you to reuse existing materials.”
Mueller said his design is one of many new multi-layer construction methods popping up around the world, as the materials have become more widely available.
The WoodWorks says its plywood buildings are made of various combinations of recycled lumber and paper.
“Our plywood building is a simple example of a very common form of construction,” said Woodworks founder Joe Cessy.
Morten Jonsson, who designed the Woodworks’ first building, the World Trade Centre tower, said it’s important to use materials that have been recycled or recycled from existing buildings.
“I don’t think you need to use a plywood box for a building because the materials can be reused,” he said.
Jonsson said the WoodWorks building was made with a mix of recycled wood, cardboard, polystyrene and polystyrol.
“We didn’t have to change the material, just the shape,” he told CBC News.
“It’s a very interesting form of building that is much easier to build than something that has to be made from paper.”
Matter of fact, one of the architects’ latest projects, the former office building at 1201 St. Clair Ave., near Jarvis, Ont., is made of a combination of recycled cardboard, cardboard boards and paper, as well as a plastic “wall.”
(Hugh Jeyarajah/CBC)Woodworks’ plywood project was inspired by the recent collapse of a steel structure in Japan.
The steel structure collapsed at a factory in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, and there have been calls to re-purpose the buildings and other industrial structures in the region for the purposes of disaster recovery.
Woodworks CEO and president Tom O’Connor said his company was inspired to make the plywood because it’s a material that is more resilient than steel.
“Plywood is one part of a building, but it is the least-expensive material to make,” he explained.
Mortens Jonssonsson also believes there’s a lot more to plywood than meets the eye. “
As an architect and an engineer, I’ve always had this fascination with building, because I think building is about making things that you can’t put together yourself, and I thought building was an interesting area for us to try to get to grips with.”
Mortens Jonssonsson also believes there’s a lot more to plywood than meets the eye.
“Plywoods can be used in other buildings as well,” he added.
“You can put together a building in a number of different ways.
We did a project in which you could put it together from multiple pieces of ply, or put it into various different configurations and it would actually be very strong.”
The Woodworks has plans to open a ply-wood building in its Toronto office next year.