Prototyping cardboard pop-up cityscapes

sketchpad
05
Nov/11

Yesterday we started prototyping (read: playing around with) the idea of combining two recent activities: making with cardboard and pop-up paper folding. The idea is to create large scale pop-up contraptions; cardboard seems like an obvious candidate, as it is easy to work with, cheap, and comes in a variety of thicknesses and stiffness degrees. In order to constrain the exercise and spark ideas, we thought we'd start by creating cityscapes, like little worlds inside of a suitcase.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
I started by re-arranging a box we had lying around so it would have one big lid instead of two small ones. This made a box that has the approximate dimensions and proportions that I envision as working really well. Ultimately, I think these would be fun in an archival portfolio box.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
An initial small prototype by Lianna as proof of concept.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes Cardboard pop-up citiscapes Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
Lianna created a very interesting corner box with a base that folds flat, and when opened, created a wonderful stage on which to build.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
Then she made a fantastic scene in it. I particularly like the shadows that are created with this technique.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
I started out by making a large support in what I imagine will be the background of the finished scene. It quite naturally wanted to be a big skyscraper...

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
So I made one out of corrugated cardboard. This is a particularly good material to use because, by changing the orientation of the corrugations, it creates interesting textures that make the scene richer that if it were just plain cardboard. We will also experiment with paint, however.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes Cardboard pop-up citiscapes Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
I knew the concept was good when Ryoko walked into the room, and immediately closed the box, picked it up, and pretended she was a designer going to show clients her project. I think these could be a lot of fun!

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
Later on I added a pop-up Godzilla attacking the building, which swings up as you open the box. The movement is still pretty small, but I was excited that it happens at all. Check out the video at the top of the post (apologies for how dark it is...) to get a sense of the movement.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
Ryan went into a different direction altogether and made a free-standing box that pops up when you open the card flat, and turned it into a frog-like animal. The cool thing is that these elements can be added to the larger "suitcase" and still work individually, which allows for collaborative building.

Cardboard pop-up citiscapes
And finally, Walter's take was to use the same exact structure multiple times, but just by changing the shape and proportions of the various elements, give a very strong sense of a cityscape.

We'll keep playing next week, and if things work out well, we might try this out with a very special "focus group" (read: guinea pigs) as early as the week after next, so stay tuned!

love love love anything pop-up. I was lucky enough to get to talk to Sam Ita in NYC, check him out: http://www.samita.us/

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