Origami is a Japanese term that means “folding paper”. This art originated from Japan and then became a common practice in the rest of the world. Now, there isn’t a single school that doesn’t teach students how to make 3D sculptures using flat sheets of paper. However, the term “origami architecture” seems like a distant concept. This type of architecture originated as a revival of this ancient Japanese culture and incorporating it in building design. In the early 1980s, the Tokyo Institute of Technology appointed architect Masahiro Chatani as a professor. 

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At first, he began experiments with origami to create unique and interesting pop-up cards. He then used origami techniques to create architectural design and create patterns, playing with light and shadow. These creations emphasized the shadow effects of the cuts and folds. Origami architecture is a convenient way for architects to use paper and visualize their designs in 2D and 3D forms. This gives their design more flexibility and a better idea of their concept rather than sketches. 

1. Bilbao Health Department

Location: Bilbao, Spain
Architects: Coll-Barreu Arquitectos

The building is located in the crossroad of two important streets of the Ensanche. The streets were designed in 1862, so they have a lot of restrictive city rules. The building has a folded façade that generated multiple visual directions from inside the building to the streets below. 

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Bilbao Health Department_©archello.com

2. Origami Office Building

Location: Paris, France
Architects: Manuelle Gautrand Architecture

The building is located in a luxurious neighbourhood of Paris, which is within the sightlines of beautiful city views. It is designed in such a way that its orthogonal volume perfectly embraces the high-level office program. 

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Origami Office Building_©archilovers.com

3. Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theater

Location: Rockford, United States
Architects: Studio Gang

This theatre is a popular design within the campus of Rock Valley College. Its origami-like roof provides an intimate social setting. Also, the distinctive central space of the theatre forms an unusual vertical axis to the sky. There is also an observatory through the kinetic roof that opens in fair weather.

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Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theater_©studiogang.com

4. Chapel for the Deaconess of St. Loup

Location: Pompaples, Switzerland
Architects: Daanilo Mondada, LOCALARCHITECTURE

The designers generated this origami shape using computer software that determines the dimensions and transmits this information to the machine. The chapel interprets the traditional layout of protestant churches and the design creates a space where the horizontal and vertical dimensions vary via a series of origami-like folds. This gives rhythm and harmony to both the interior and exterior of the building.

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Chapel for the Deaconess of St. Loup_©archdaily.com

5. Embedded Project

Location: Shanghai, China
Designers: HHD_FUN

This temporary pavilion is composed of triangles which are continuously divided in some places, creating a fractal pattern. It was designed to house an installation that projected imaginary buildings and images from Google Earth. The faces of the structure were designed using a recursion algorithm, a triangular fractal pattern. 

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Embedded Project_©behance.com

6. Karuizawa Museum Complex

Location: Annaka, Japan
Architects: Yasui Hideo Atelier

The geometrical shape of the building comprises of both traditional and modern forms. This was designed in such a way that the origami architecture will coexist with sharp lines of mountainous scenery in the area. 

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Karuizawa Museum Complex_©arch20.com

7. Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Architects: Preston Scott Cohen

The triangular site posed a serious threat to fulfill the requirements of reducing the tension between the light and the need for a series of large, neutral, and rectangular galleries. Preston Scott Cohen came up with the solution of subtly twisting the geometric surfaces to disparate angles between the galleries and also refracts the natural light even into the innermost parts of the building.

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Tel Aviv Museum of Art_©bustler.net

8. Nestle Chocolate Museum

Location: Toluca De Lerdo, Mexico
Architects: Rojkind Arquitectos

It was the first chocolate museum in Mexico. This origami architecture is designed with surprising twists and folds throughout the building. The structure has a 300-meter long façade that follows along the motorway as the new image of the factory. 

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Nestle Chocolate Museum_©rojkindarquitectos.com

9. Kyushu Geibun Kan

Location: Fukuoka, Japan
Architects: Kengo Kuma & Associates

Following the traditional origami architecture, this building has many folded planes within its several courtyards and passages. The structure has a low and angular profile that perfectly emulates the landscape and traditional Japanese art.

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Kyushu Geibun Kan_©archdaily.com

10. Park Pavilion

Location: Cuenca, Spain
Designers: Moneo Brock Studio

This steel and glass pavilion is composed of 23 pentagonal modules that together form a structural network. The geometrical form of these pentagonal modules was born of a search for equilibrium between the repetition of a unit element and a composition of a whole.

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Park Pavillion_©archello.com

The history of origami goes back to several centuries ago, as there is no clear knowledge of when it began. However, since then, this art has come a long way due to its flexibility in many designs. Origami is not only an aesthetic and smart representation of spatial configurations and form-finding, but it also acts as an effective tool for further morphological explorations in the architectural design process. Although origami study is an interdisciplinary approach, it explores the mathematical, architectural, and structural aspects of folded structures. This helps us understand how we can use paper folding as a medium to solve problems while designing something. 

Reference List:

Rogers, S., 2021. Origami-Inspired Architecture: 14 Geometric Structures. [online] WebUrbanist. Available at: <https://weburbanist.com/2013/11/11/origami-inspired-architecture-14-geometric-structures/2/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Journal. 2021. Folding Architecture: Top 10 Origami-Inspired Buildings – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: <https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/collections/folding-architecture-top-10-origami-inspired-buildings/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Origamic architecture – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origamic_architecture> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Journal. 2021. Folding Architecture: Top 10 Origami-Inspired Buildings – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: <https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/collections/folding-architecture-top-10-origami-inspired-buildings/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

designboom | architecture & design magazine. 2021. manuelle gautrand: origami office building, paris. [online] Available at: <https://www.designboom.com/architecture/manuelle-gautrand-origami-office-building-paris/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

designboom | architecture & design magazine. 2021. kengo kuma’s kyushu geibun kan unites nature and people. [online] Available at: <https://www.designboom.com/architecture/kengo-kumas-kyushu-geibun-kan-connects-nature-and-people/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

ArchDaily. 2021. Nestlé Chocolate Museum / Rojkind Arquitectos. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/28509/nestle-chocolate-museum-rojkind-arquitectos> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Aasarchitecture.com. 2021. KARUIZAWA MUSEUM BY YASUI HIDEO ATELIER – aasarchitecture. [online] Available at: <https://aasarchitecture.com/2012/11/karuizawa-museum-by-yasui-hideo-atelier.html/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Images:

  1. [image] Available at: <https://archello.com/story/44240/attachments/photos-videos/1> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  2. [image] Available at: <https://www.archilovers.com/projects/51866/origami-office-building.html> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  3. [image] Available at: <https://studiogang.com/project/bengt-sjostrom-starlight-theatre> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  4. [image] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/9201/temporary-chapel-for-the-deaconesses-of-st-loup-localarchitecture/50101b7a28ba0d4222000b35-temporary-chapel-for-the-deaconesses-of-st-loup-localarchitecture-photo> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  5. [image] Available at: <https://www.behance.net/gallery/895643/Shanghai-Embedded-Project> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  6. [image] Available at: <https://www.arch2o.com/karuizawa-museum-complex-yasui-hideo-atelier/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  7. [image] Available at: <https://bustler.net/news/2376/tel-aviv-museum-of-art-opens-its-new-herta-and-paul-amir-building-tomorrow> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  8. [image] Available at: <https://rojkindarquitectos.com/work/nestle-chocolate-museum/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
  9. [image] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/440589/kyushu-geibunkan-kengo-kuma-and-associates/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
Author

Tulisha Srivastava is a B.Arch student with a zeal for writing, reading, and traveling. She is an aspiring architect who wants to share her viewpoint with the architecture community. Tulisha has varying interests in the fields, which include historical buildings and the relationship between movies and architecture.

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