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Sustainable and Innovative Housing for a Circular Future

Wikkel House

3. Good Health and Well-Being 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Wikkel House is a pentagon-shaped house with a unique design made of cardboard and sustainably built to last. It is built and designed by the people of Fiction Factory, a construction firm in Amsterdam. ‘Wikkelen’ means wrapping in Dutch, which is how Wikkel House earned its name.

Authors

Gunjan Agarwal

Gunjan Agarwal

Mounica Datti

Mounica Datti

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

Wikkel House is created with high-quality cardboard that is wrapped around a house-shaped mould. Cardboard is light and that makes it easy to lay the foundation. Cardboard has optimal insulation quality as it is a good insulator and it is really warm, protecting from cold.

With the help of eco-friendly glue, 24 layers of cardboard are put on top of each other so that the layers stick together. It is completed with a waterproof breathable foil and on the exterior, and wooden panels are installed to protect the house from UV rays and wind.

Each cardboard segment is 1.2 meters broad and a Wikkel house is a combination of these segments that slide into each other. The more segments put together, the bigger the house. One can have their own Wikkel house with 3, 5, 8, or with 127 segments attached to each other. It doesn’t have a limit. A Wikkel house can be placed in the garden, roof, or on the boat, and can also be used as a vacation house or office. It is accommodated with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen with any colour choice combination. Its unique appearance and design are so fascinating that it is hard to recognize if it is made from cardboard.

Sales Officer Dorus Stolk stated that “Wikkel house is 3 times more sustainable than traditional housing’’ as it is made of materials that have minimal impact on the environment and are 95% recyclable. Cardboards are made of waste material or leftovers and wood that comes from ecologically managed forests having trees that grow fast ensuring that plenty of new ones are planted in return. A Wikkel house is built to last at least 100 years. It doesn’t need a foundation and it is just installed over a concrete block and wooden beam structure. This also reduces the installation cost and time. It can be placed within one day along with glass facades. Thus it is highly flexible with size. Wikkel houses can be loaded onto a trailer and are easily transported anywhere.

Sustainable and Innovative Housing for a Circular Future

Inspiration

According to Dorus, it all started with a bet in the early 1990s when inventor Rene Snel, who was an entrepreneur with a creative mindset, used to build a crate for the food industry with cardboard. Instead of making sharp corners, he wrapped cardboard in round shapes with multiple layers using a mould. He figured out that it was much stronger and equipped with many more forces than he eventually thought it would be. This brought him to the idea of making a house just by cardboard itself to stand on its own. He claimed that the design is so strong that one could use it to make a house. This inspired him to take a bet of a lifetime with his friend to build a house of cardboard. He used a mould similar to the shape of a house, passed corrugated cardboard through a gluing station, and wrapped the mould with cardboard on top of each other. He claimed that when it reaches a certain thickness, it becomes incredibly strong. He proved his statement and won the bet. He managed to make a segment out of cardboard but could not manage to make a whole house out of it. Later his machine ended up in storage for years, until he met Oep Schilling, the owner of Fiction factory.

Oep was already looking for an opportunity to build a small house in a different way from building traditional houses, without the use of concrete and with more sustainable materials. Oep recognized cardboard as the sustainable material to build houses, as it can be recycled. Oep asked Rene if he could rent his machine so that he could make it work; he already had gained a lot of knowledge in his company about how to make things perfect in a way thinking about materials and sustainability. This is how the idea of the company and the company itself started.

Overall impact

Dorus stated ‘’Sustainability is the new normal’’. Wikkel House has paved the way to sustainable housing which is both beautiful and eco-friendly. People who become familiar with the concept of Wikkel House have started to realize the importance of sustainable living and eventually, the number of people interested in buying these houses has also increased in the past few years.

Wikkel House is environmentally friendly as it uses cardboard which is 95% recyclable and biodegradable. Moreover, cardboard is an economical choice as it can be recycled and also minimizes waste. Also, compared to a traditional house the insulation value is better as cardboard itself is a great insulator.

Business benefit

The population of The Netherlands keeps growing. The Dutch housing market is facing tensions due to a lack of housing supply and driving the prices of the houses up. A Wikkel house with 55m square footage comes at 60% less cost than a traditional home with comparable flooring square footage. Additionally, the home and its segments can be used over and over again, and weigh slightly over 1,000 pounds per segment. According to Dorus, the delivery time for the panels takes about eight months after an order is made and it takes only one day to assemble those panels. The designers of the house claim that a Wikkel house can last even 100 years with proper care. All these advantages point to the fact that a Wikkel house makes a much lesser deeper dent in one’s pocket than a traditional home.

The fact that there is a growth spike of more than 50% in the last 1.5 years compared to the previous two years proves that people are wanting to buy environmentally friendly sustainable houses. Wikkel House shows that there is a new way to build houses and also proves the business case that companies can profit from such a business model. Their future plans include making a blueprint of the way they build their houses so that companies around the world who are inspired by this type of housing do not need to start from scratch.

Also, Wikkel House has been awarded ‘The German Sustainability Award Design ‘21' for developing a sustainable solution for future housing.


Social and environmental benefit

As stated previously, Wikkel House is 3 times more eco-friendly than traditional housing. Things like the biodiversity impact of the plantations, transport distance of the building material, and carbon sequestration among many other things were taken into account to reduce the environmental impact. It took almost four years of research before the final product was achieved. And as a result, the final product has optimal insulation qualities, lasts for decades, and is on the way to being 95% biodegradable. In addition, the advantages of prefabricated systems comprise ecological, social, and economic factors such as a reduction in construction time, reduced impacts, and less annoyance to the surroundings.

According to Dorus “Wikkel House can be a small part of the solution for tensions on the housing market in cities, because there are people who want to live in the city in a small House.” Wikkel House provides enough positive features, which are key to sustainable development and growth of the present generation without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations.

SDG 3: Made from sustainable materials which is 95% recyclable, Wikkel House promotes good health and well-being.

SDG 9: Wikkel House is an innovative housing concept where flexible modules can be connected with one another to create a house anywhere. It combines both charming design and special construction strength provided by cardboard and plywood structures, which are its main building materials.

SDG 11: With a small ecological footprint, Wikkel House enables sustainable cities and communities and a circular future.

SDG 12: Building and construction industry is said to consume 40% of the world’s natural resources. Wikkel House, by sourcing all its construction material responsibly and sustainably and also at the same time enabling re-use of the materials, is promoting responsible consumption and production.

Interview

Dorus Stolk, Sales Officer

Photo of interviewee

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Wikkel House

Wikkel House

Amsterdam, NL

Business Website: https://wikkelhouse.com

Year Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Wikkel House is a pentagon-shaped house with a unique design made of cardboard and sustainably built to last. It is built and designed by the people of Fiction Factory, a construction firm in Amsterdam. ‘Wikkelen’ means wrapping in Dutch, which is how Wikkel House earned its name.