It feels like I’m getting a handle on what newspaper as a material can and can’t do. With that in mind I’m planning to try something I’m pretty sure it will struggle with. High forces do bad things to newspaper joints, but there must be a way around this problem – and it might lie in reducing the self-weight of the structure.

By optimising members thickness and strength, I’m sure I can build a sculpture  that will support it’s own weight – but look like it shouldn’t. A few sketch models are below – like most of the Paper Project designs it’ll almost certainly get build in cocktail sticks first…


About three months ago, artist Pip Woolf saw the Building Design write up of the Paper Project and asked if it could form part of a piece of work called ‘Bridging Views of Llangynidr’, in which local people were asked to contribute views of Llangynidr through art, prose and images. These were fixed to a paper arch built by people from the village over the weekend, with the act of constructing the structure giving rise to conversations and discussions throughout the day.

I met some entertainig, interesting and generally wonderful people and thoroughly enjoyed contributing to what was a really exciting weekend. It was great to teach people about the details of the construction process, only to have them pass on those skills to someone else a few minutes later.

A few people seemed inspired to run a similar project in their schools or with other groups, and I’d encourage those people to get in touch if they have any further questions (see the contact tab above) – and to E-mail any photos from events!

The finished structure

Trial and error are always required in any undertaking. With thankfully limited quantities of the latter, another concept has taken physical form in the Digbeth warehouse that’s currently acting as something of a studio. Structurally, it’s not too different to previous trussed arches but geometrically it’s a step change in complexity, all one hundered and forty struts used were individually cut to length to make up the whole.

Each hours work is important in heading towards a goal, but some feel more vital than others. Yesterday’s hour produced interesting images (posted below), today involved staring at lines of code…less visually exciting!

The images yesterday were developed in Rhino, using the Rhinoscript plug-in to parametrically define the geometry. Today was spent on more scripting to automate the collection of strut length data to allow easy fabrication. I would upload a screen-shot of the spreadsheet of strut lengths but…well…it’s not very interesting. You’ll have to trust me that things are progressing!

Due to the vagaries of wordpress’s image upload function, these are a little later than I intended to post them, but they offer a first look at an installation I’m working on for an exhibition in Birmingham.

It’s becoming apparent that the paper project is getting interest from further afield than I expected. An artist based near the Brecon Beacons has been in touch after reading the Building Design magazine article , with an interest in using the project as a community-based arts event.

Something we noticed during the project prototyping was that rolling hundreds of newspaper rolls gives those participating plenty of time to talk to each other, making it a very social event. The net effect is that manual process of construction leads to conversation and the artist, Pip Woolf, was interested in this aspect of the project. It’s great to see the project sending out shoots – hopefully the first of many.

Over the last few weeks’ pause from the Paper Project, I’ve been thinking over the next steps. The part of the project the has fascinated me most has been the creation of sculptural form from a very low-tech material. I can imagine the next stages of the project being to push this particular aspect much further. I’ve been working on ways of generating geometry using scripted functions and algorithms in a 3d-modelling package called Rhino, and already some interesting ways to produce sculptural, engineered forms are suggesting themselves. It makes more sense when you see the images – I’ll post some later.