Box Beams was a project that came about when we managed to collect waaay too many formula milk cardboard boxes after the birth of our twins. When Naiel & Sasha started crawling all over the house and beyond, we desperately needed a solution to contain our monkeys in order to work for more than five minutes at a stretch! This is when we turned to cardboard for a solution.
Cardboard is an amazing material – with an image problem, which is why it’s misunderstood, underestimated and unceremoniously discarded by most. Although cardboard is considered a disposable, short-life packaging material, in reality it can perform very well over extended periods if designed with sensitivity toward its properties and behavior under various conditions. From an environmental perspective cardboard is made from waste paper – it consists of a flute, made of recycled paper, which is sandwiched between two liners. It’s now common practice for some liners to consist of a considerable proportion of recycled content.
The materiality of cardboard makes the endeavors to find appropriate uses of this material both, appealing and challenging. There are already several common uses of cardboard in construction, and more still in the furniture sector. We used our cardboard box collection to build a play pen for our babies in our backyard, using a technique of interlocking flaps of cardboard boxes to create a paper block chain. This experiment resulted in further experiments on our terrace, exploring cardboard boxes and ply wood as construction materials.
These iterations led to the development of Box Beams as a lightweight construction material for roofing, flooring and walls.
Later, we readdressed the construction and installation methodology to develop the Box Beam Panel for efficient on-site installation.
Fabrication Stage I
Fabrication Stage II
We used this construction methodology to install a roofing structure for a temporary house in Lahore. A year later, when we moved to Karachi, we combined our research in indigenous bamboo construction methodologies with our experience developing Box Beams to propose an experimental Bamboo & Box Beams pre-fab construction project, designed as an extension to the WWF Wetland Center at Sandspit Beach, Karachi.
More on that here Bamboo & Box Beams