Origamic architecture

http://www.popupology.co.uk/learn

A selection of paper space workshops for you to enjoy! Choose from the projects below, print pdf on 220-270gsm card, then ‘simply’ cut and fold!

In the Japanese paperfolding art of origami, cutting the paper is frowned upon. But in 1981, Masahiro Chatani, professor of Architecture at Tokyo Institute of Technology proved that papercutting could indeed produce stunning pieces of art.

Along with his colleague Keiko Nakazawa, Chatani developed Origamic Architecture, a variation of kirigami (itself a variation of origami where cuts were allowed), where you only needed an X-acto knife and a ruler to create complex 3-dimensional structures out of a single sheet of paper.

Origamic Architecture sculptures range from (the relatively simple) geometric patterns to famous buildings’ facades. It’s like 3-D pop-up greeting cards, but much, much more complex. While looking at the examples below, keep this in mind: everything’s done with the simple cuts of the knife.

Origamic architecture involves the three-dimensional reproduction of architecture, geometric patterns, everyday objects, or other images, on various scales, using cut-out and folded paper, usually thin paperboard. Visually, these creations are comparable to intricate ‘pop-ups’, indeed, some works are deliberately engineered to possess ‘pop-up’-like properties. However, origamic architecture tends to be cut out of a single sheet of paper, whereas most pop-ups involve two or more. To create the three-dimensional image out of the two-dimensional surface requires skill akin to that of an architect.[1]

The development of origamic architecture began with Professor Masahiro Chatani’s (then a newly appointed professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology) experiments with designing original and unique greeting cards. Japanese culture encourages the giving and receiving of cards for various special occasions and holidays, particularly Japanese New Year, and according to his own account, Professor Chatani personally felt that greeting cards were a significant form of connection and communication between people. He worried that in today’s fast-paced modern world, the emotional connections called up and created by the exchange of greeting cards would become scarce.[2]

In the early 1980s, Professor Chatani began to experiment with cutting and folding paper to make unique and interesting pop-up cards. He used techniques of origami (Japanese paper folding) and kirigami (Japanese papercutting), as well as his experience in architectural design, to create intricate patterns which played with light and shadow.[3] Many of his creations are made of stark white paper which emphasizes the shadowing effects of the cuts and folds. In the preface to one of his books, he called the shadows of the three-dimensional cutouts created a “dreamy scene” that invited the viewer into a “fantasy world.”[3]

At first, Professor Chatani simply gave the cards to his friends and family. Over the next nearly thirty years, however, he published over fifty books on origamic architecture, many directed at children. He came to believe that origamic architecture could be a good way to teach architectural design and appreciation of architecture, as well as to inspire interest in mathematics, art, and design in young children.[3]

Professor Chatani also spent a good deal of time, even after his retirement, traveling to exhibit his work. He frequently collaborated on books and exhibits with Keiko Nakazawa and Takaaki Kihara.[4]

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