Charming and Useful Cardboard Buildings: Wikkelhouse and More


Housing continues to evolve in inventive and more sustainable ways.

One wonderful innovation that is picking up steam and worldwide recognition is known as the Wikkelhouse.

Fiction Factory’s Wikkelhouse

It’s a compact but attractive and sturdy house that is made of cardboard, or to be more precise, virgin fiber paperboard sourced from Scandinavian trees. The company that creates them, Fiction Factory, believes in sustainable building practices and plants trees to offset their wood use. Wikkelhouses are straightforward, durable, charming, and versatile.

What is it?

Wikkelhouse is a cardboard or paperboard house or structure that is designed to be used in segments. The cardboard is wrapped in layers around a mold shaped like a house and then the 24 layers are sealed with environmentally friendly glue. The house is also sealed with a layer of breathable, waterproof foil and finished with wood. Wikkelen is a Dutch verb that means to wrap. You can join up multiple 54-square-foot, 1,100-pound tube-shaped segments to create your own ideal Wikkelhouse for use in housing, business, as festival pop-up structures, or for whatever your heart desires and envisions.

Wikkelhouses can be comfortable and personalized living spaces because they include the option of a “Home” segment. This segment includes a bathroom, shower, and/or kitchen so you can go about your daily routine with ease in your lovely, chic, weatherproof cardboard home. Wikkelhouses are light enough not to need a foundation and are comfortable because they also have excellent acoustics and insulation. They are shown customized with doors, windows, porches, chimneys, woodstoves, and shelves.

Who is Fiction Factory?

The Wikkelhouse is the brain child of the Fiction Factory, an innovative makers group in Amsterdam. They’ve been making unique interiors, furniture, and fair stands since 1989. They employ and collaborate with a wide range of gifted tradespeople, including furniture makers, painters, carpenters, welders, upholsterers, draftsmen and women, and project managers.

Their creativity at work even extends to creating their very own dictionary of Fiction Factory vocabulary. It’s a Fiction Dictionary, or Fictionary, that they use to catalogue the names of their various beloved projects, workshops, tools, machines, and processes. Here are just a few examples from their site:

Flanel-grijs (Flannel-grey) A particular shade of white.

Koekendag Woensdag (Wednesday cookie day) Every Wednesday the baker delivers almond cakes in time for the coffee break.

Luka Watchdog. Bites.

Marie Antoinette The guillotine used to cut sheet steel,” (below).

Their website also explains that they are glad to partner with customers to provide them with tailor-made Wikkelhouses.

How to Get a Wikkelhouse

Attaining a Wikkelhouse can be a wee bit tricky, or rather, it can require patience. Fiction Factory currently only expertly builds twelve of these special structures each year in order to keep them of the very highest construction and quality. There is a wait list and they are available for purchase and delivery in: Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Denmark, the UK and Germany. They cost ‎€25.000 (around $28,000) for a three segment model, before the delivery and placement fee. Once you complete an order, your Wikkelhouse can be delivered on a trailer and constructed in about one day. The front of the Wikkelhouse can be finished with glass or closed off, depending on your preference. Wikkelhouses can be moved to new locations or owners as need be.

The Wikkelhouse is unique, user friendly, and well designed. Its makers say it is three times more sustainable than other housing building processes, which is another huge bonus. They are recyclable and can last up to 100 years with a minimum life span of 50. As the gifted makers at Fiction Factory say in their Wikkelhouse video, “[we] figured that if we wanted a Wikkelhouse, many more people would want one too. People like you.”

Shigeru Ban

If you are charmed by the Wikkelhouse, you should also explore the work of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. He has created a cardboard cathedral, waterproof hut, and pavilion in New Zealand, Abu Dhabi, and Japan, respectively. The cathedral is pictured below.

It was created after a 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand as a temporary replacement for an 1864 Anglican cathedral that was destroyed. Shigeru Ban’s cardboard tube cathedral is quake proof and designed to last 50 years while the community builds a more permanent house of worship. Ban has a special place in his heart for victims of both natural and man-made disasters, and has built paper-pole based shelters for victims of the Kobe earthquake; of Rwanda genocide, of the Chengdu, China earthquake, among others. In 2015 he designed a refugee shelter that re-used bricks from earthquake destroyed buildings in Nepal, working with the Voluntary Architects’ Network.

Not surprisingly, Ban won the 2014 Pritzker Prize for his exceptionally creative and philanthropic architectural projects. You can check out more of his firm’s wok at their site.

Innovative housing continues to surprise, delight, and intrigue. It can also be both sustainable and essential in difficult times. In closing, here’s a few more interesting cardboard houses:

This is a $35,000 cardboard house from architects Stutchbury and Pape that can be built in less than six hours. It is recycled and recyclable, and can actually be lived in; it comes with both a compositing toilet and water recycling capabilities.

This is an interior space, but the “Nothing Office” in Amsterdam is also pretty impressive:

Also, here’s a cool cardboard chair and standing desk. If you’re now itching to build your own cardboard structure, you may want to check out Bloxes by Andrew Wilson and Aza Raskin:

Julia Travers



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