Paper Construction and Design

Paper Research Group

The Paper Research Group is engaged in basic research in the field of sustainable and resource-saving constructions made out of paper as a building material. In addition to constructional feasibility studies, the group is also dedicated to experimental and numerical analyses of the load-bearing behavior and building physical parameters of building components made of paper. Within the framework of the research project "BAMP – Bauen mit Papier" (Building with Paper) as well as the project "Emergency Accommodations Made of Paper" prototypes of wall, ceiling and floor structures have already been developed and assembled into a paper house. In this context, the determination of an optimal layer structure as well as the investigation of different adhesive bonds are key criteria to meet the requirements for statics as well as heat, moisture and fire protection. Currently, the durability of the building structure is being investigated in an outdoor weathering test by means of metrological methods in order to develop further optimization variants for paper components and thus promote resource-saving construction possibilities.

Dr. Nadja Bishara,
Junior Research Group Leader Building with Paper

In addition to constructive feasibility studies, our main focus is on the experimental and numerical analyses of the load-bearing behavior and structural-physical parameters of components made of paper.

Textbook with Basics from Research to Practice

Paper and cardboard as sustainable building materials are currently the subject of research and testing. They can be produced inexpensively, are made from renewable raw materials and are completely recyclable. The focus of their application is on temporary uses, such as for transitional schools, emergency shelters or “microhomes”. Properly protected from moisture and fire, the material proves to be durable. Design and aesthetic qualities are by no means neglected, as case studies by Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban demonstrate: the Chengdu Elementary School, the Paper Concert Hall in Aquila or the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch all provided a sign of hope after devastating earthquakes. This introduction explains the technology of building with cardboard and paper and shows a wide range of examples.

More information

As a substitute material, paper offers excellent potential for more environmentally friendly and thus more sustainable construction. It is a lightweight material in which its fibers – unlike in wood – can be arranged and functionalized. The production of paper can now be considered highly efficient and optimized. To date, it has only been used in simple applications in the construction sector. Components and façade construction systems need further investigation with the aim of finding innovative solutions for the future.

It is well known that future generations will rely on the consumption of renewable resources. The building sector can contribute in this regard not only to reducing the consumption of natural resources, but also to the recycling process. To illustrate this: Not only does heating buildings require significant amounts of energy, building materials such as concrete or polystyrene lead to high CO2 emissions and environmental pollution. Due to global population growth, mineral building materials will no longer be able to meet the demand for housing in terms of energy requirements and availability in the long term.

High CO2 emissions and energy consumption, as well as a large volume of waste in the construction sector are increasingly making renewable raw materials the focus of building research. Paper has great potential in terms of strength, insulating properties and recyclability. However, there is a lack of scientifically verifiable data on its durability when applied in the construction industry. For this reason, as part of this project, a paper-building will be equipped with building physics measurement technology.


Paper is a new type of material for the construction sector, for which no defined and standardized techniques for its use as a building material yet exist. Paper represents a low-cost building material and thus promotes “affordable construction”. Furthermore, temporary paper structures contribute to the management of demographic change by means of cycle-compatible temporary building structures. These are used to temporarily close construction gaps, for example, or to expand buildings, i.e. to provide temporary living space or even temporary workplaces. To determine the durability of paper-constructions, the effects of various degrees of humidity and temperature must be tested. Accordingly, it is crucial to monitor the hygrothermal changes of paper construction over the course of the seasons and associated climatic conditions.

Core thesis

The basic aim of the research is to integrate building physics measurement technology into a paper building and to evaluate the data generated from using this technology. This must be done in order to confirm the core thesis that paper structures are suitable for a certain period of time in terms of structural engineering. This measurement technology will be installed at the relevant or critical points both on the surfaces and integrated into building components. In this way, it will be possible to monitor and evaluate how components made of paper materials behave over time, at which points weakening or even damage to the material occurs, and for what reason this occurs. If damage is detected, it is possible to draw up strategies for dealing with this issue during the inspection phase and to initiate suitable maintenance measures.

Research approach

This project builds up on the Zukunft Bau funded research project 'Emergency Shelters Made of Paper', in which a prototype made of paper materials was built last year (2020).

The central research question is how durable a construction made of paper materials is, i.e.,:

  • How do paper components behave in terms of building physics over a period of two years?
  • How does the material react to changing humidity, especially over the four seasons of the year?
  • Does condensation occur in the component due to possible unforeseen damage?
  • Which material or construction-related damage patterns can occur and how could maintenance be carried out during use?

Planning strategies

Moisture sensors and temperature sensors for determining thermal bridges both on the component surfaces and within the component are integrated in order to validate the simulations and to detect weak points and damage at an early stage.

The data generated in this way is continuously evaluated in specific cycles that include morning, midday and evening, as well as over a period of two years in spring, summer, fall and winter.


  Name Contact
Dr. Nadja Bishara
Paper and Energy
+49 6151 16-23031
L5|06 630


  Name Contact
Dunia Abdullah Agha M.Sc.
+49 6151 16-23019
L5|06 632
Bernadette Lang-Eurisch M.Sc.
+49 6151 16-23063
L5|06 462