Introduction: Cardboard Cafe

About: Founded in 2006 by Richard Johnson and Alison Sant, the Studio for Urban Projects is an interdisciplinary design collaborative that works at the intersection of architecture, urbanism, art, and social activism…

The cardboard cafe is an outdoor installation made of entirely of corrugated cardboard, and at the end of it’s life will be recycled into a new product packaging.

Step 1: Fabrication Techniques

The cardboard cafe was built with a combination of digital and manual fabrication techniques. Many of the tools and fastening systems are borrowed directly from industrial packaging applications.

Step 2: The Landscape

The cardboard cafe is constructed of 410 cardboard boxes which were aggregated into an artificial landscape that incorporated seating, lounging and greenery.

Step 3: The Construction System

The boxes tessellated in plan and contoured in section. The tessellated box pattern compresses and expands to dynamically adapt to different programmatic uses.

Step 4: Landscape Expanded

Denser areas create opportunities for sitting. Expanded areas are inserted with clusters of planted towers, creating a second topographic layer.

Step 5: Program Opportunities

The branching plan encloses nooks and spaces for sitting and lounging, while remaining open to the surrounding flow of pedestrian movement.

Step 6: Bringing It to Life

The cardboard towers’ perforated leaf patterns and live plantings create a vertical flourish above the primarily horizontal, topographical aggregation of cardboard boxes.

Step 7: Cardboard Cafe

The cardboard cafe creates an informal outdoor lounge area, in a busy pedestrian court.