The PaperVillain by The Functionality



Designers The Functionality have built a canopy constructed from 2,452 newspaper hats.


The design was assembled with wire to form a tensile structure at the Secret Garden Party festival in East Anglia, UK, in July.


Created by seventeen people, the project took three weeks to complete.


Here's some more information from The Functionality:


The PaperVillain

Everyday in London, hundreds of thousands of commuters are handed their own free paper as they approach their local station.


They squash onto the tube and attempt to absorb themselves in a world of current affairs and gossip, they arrive at their stop, they exit the station and they deposit their newspaper in the first bin they encounter.


This process is repeated on their journey home.  This is the new travel novel… but perhaps its life doesn’t need to be so predefined. Perhaps, in reaction to our current throw away society, a better life can be afforded for it…


Formed from the limits of what a few concerned friends could carry, PaperVillain is a response to the disposable lifecycle of this daily read. Over 3 weeks, 17 pairs of hands individually folded 2542 traditional paper hats from an equal mix of London Lite and London Paper collected on the evening of Thursday 2nd July 2009. Together these paper hats formed an articulated tensile canopy from the leftovers of our morning read for The Secret Garden Festival.


The global shape of the PaperVillain was derived from a series of physical prototypes in which gravity was allowed to naturally distort each hat into a unique form. The design process of the project was excited by a iterative dialog between the digital and handmade, and as hours of folding became days; we became increasingly familiar with the limits of the material under tension and the demanding logistics of the fabrication process.


Working with an everyday “throw-away” newsprint forced us to recognize its inherent fragility and find ways to make it unify these individual hats. We returned to the computers to define the location of specific strengthened nodes to spread the load of the papers across a network of cables. These bespoke elements are seamlessly stitched amidst the hats forming large tabloid quilts. This carefully stitched surface created a tensile membrane hanging from a series of predefined wire nodes.


Installed at this year’s Secret Garden Party, the PaperVillain existed not only as a better life for the ‘freepapers’ lucky enough to be involved, but also as a haven for party goers looking for refuge.


As the festival came to a close after 3 days, so too did the experiment with our captured tabloids whom we carefully returned to their previous life cycle and natural habitat - the recycling bin.


William Trossell
Andrew Lyon
Nicholas Wood

The Functionality is a collection of friends and designers working together to create a networked research group. From installations to infrastructure, The Functionality researches how the built environment can be designed to be better


. The collective spans two continents and four cities; collaborating on projects ranging from print media and installations to architecture and city planning. Besides Andrew Lyon, its core group is William Trossell, Nicholas Wood, Tom Beresford, and Colin Harris. Designers, artists, and engineers who all believe that what we make matters, its not just added value, it adds to our experience.

Posted on Friday August 14th 2009 at 5:28 pm by Jonny Jones. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Katy

    Sweet, a paper folly! And I do love me a good folly.

  • toodles

    brilliant. then the rain comes and its a ridiculous mess. that or a tiny spark and the whole thing goes up in flames. this is quite stupid and irresponsible especially at a festival.


  • looks like fun!


    Great illustrations of the concept. I love how in the models the shelter appears to hug the visitor. Great re-appropriation of the subject mater, which is the iconoclast newspaper hat. It must inspire a thought to all regarding our consumption patterns. This piece would be greatly accompanied by data relating to how great an area the daily consumption of newspaper could produce with this technique. Awesome

  • For any concerned citizen, we water proofed and fire retarded the paper hats. Even parties have people who think of safety!


  • Jon