The making of an Origamic Architecture Book

Jan 23, 2016 | Design

The first in the series of “In The Fold”, Heritage Structures Of India explores the intricate beauty of the structures and their form in paper through the unique art of Origamic Architecture. This technique uses cuts and folds to reproduce three-dimensional forms of architecture and geometric patterns in paper.

Each structure in this book has been meticulously creased and folded to its final form by hand. 

Founder of Fold Nation and author of “In The Fold”, Heritage Structures Of India,  Shivaram Ananthanarayanan about the process and thought behind it.

What is Origamic Architecture ?

Origamic Architecture was developed by Professor Masahiro Chatani. Origamic Architecture is an art form that uses similar techniques of origami (Japanese paper folding) and Kirigami (Japanese paper cutting).to reproduce three-dimensional forms of architecture and geometric patterns. These creations are basically intricate pop-ups. However, Origamic Architecture is usually made by cutting a single sheet of paper to create three-dimensional designs out of two-dimensional surfaces. Creating these forms involves considerable spatial visualisation that combines the skills of an architect and that of a sculptor.

How did In the Fold happen ? 

Shiv: Over the years I have seen numerous books published on Indian Heritage buildings and structures that delve into their various architectural and historical aspects. However, all these books are in the 2 dimensional printed formats with photographs and artistically drawn images. Therein sprang the idea to reproduce the heritage structures of India that would showcase their architectural and structural splendour beyond a flat image.

“Origamic Architecture” was the perfect medium for this. I realised that showcasing the heritage structures in this format would add immensely to the visual impact on the viewer. The unique aspect of this art of creating 3 dimensional forms that fold flat lends itself very appropriately to being made into a book.
After the idea for such a book was first discussed with Dean D’Cruz, Architect and founder of Mozaic Architecture, his studio helped compile a huge list of structures from across the country that I could then choose from. Having an architect of Dean D’Cruz’s caliber providing valuable input during the designing process made sure I was moving in the right direction.


How many heritage structures are in the book ?

Shiv:This book features 10 heritage structures from across the country. There were numerous heritage buildings selected from which I chose the 10 featured in this book. More than 30 structures were worked on to be made using Origamic Architecture.

What was the criteria for the choice ? 

Shiv:Trial models of almost 30 structures were attempted with discussions and valuable inputs from Architect Dean D’Cruz. But, not all buildings and structures could be converted to sufficiently interesting facades with interesting complexity in depth. Another criteria was to have a heritage building from every part of the country and to have a variety in complexity, design and form.

I have personally visited only 3-4 of the 10 structures that I finally designed. I used images and videos to study the various intricacies of the structures and get the best façade that could be created with origamic architecture.

The evolution of architectural design over the years, cultural influences, the immense variety of structures in our country and the intricate details are what caught my attention while designing these structures.

What’s your background as an artist? Have you also studied design? How does that sensibility come into this project?

Shiv:I have been deeply immersed in the art of Origami from a very young age. During this journey of experimenting and manipulating paper into three dimensional shapes I also delved into the various allied fields of the subject that is today known as “Paper Engineering”. This included a wide gamut of creative possibilities through Kirigami, Slice Forms, Pop-ups, Paper Toys, Paper Automata, Packaging Design and other interesting arts and crafts with paper as the medium.

As I had intimate knowledge of the possibilities and constraints of the medium I was able to work with and around them to get the best possible final design.

My experiments with other mediums of art, Music and interacting with people with the creative bent of mind have surely been influential in my creative process.

What was the production process for the book ?

Shiv:The size of the book is 40cm X 180cm. This was so I could get the most possible detail in the structures while maintaining the compactness of the book.

I had experimented with various gauges, textures and types of paper until I finally selected the one that worked best. As there was a variety in complexity, I needed to find the right paper that would suit all the designs. I chose a 160gsm corded textured white paper. The starkness of the white made sure that the structure was the center of attention.

Each design underwent considerable fine tuning and took days of hand cutting prototypes with the same intricacies and detail that is now visible in the final laser cut pages of this book.This book took about six months to perfect the design elements and prototypes. The actual production took about a month to bring the book into its final shape.

Each structure in this book has been meticulously creased and folded to its final form and then finally bound together by hand.

What is the vision going forward ?

Shiv:This book is the first in the “In The Fold” series. The plan is to design more structures and showcase the architectural and structural splendor of India in this unique 3 Dimensional form within a book.

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