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Foldcast, a project by the Academy of Architecture that provides a solution to drastically reduce the use of concrete

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Academy of Architecture

14 December 2023

Foldcast. Paper formworks for concrete elements.

 

Foldcast is the project conceived by the team consisting of Prof. Ena Lloret-Fritschi (USI), Fabio Amicarelli (PhD, USI), Andrea Realini and Elia Quadranti that provides a solution to drastically reduce the use of concrete.

 

Concrete is by far the most used material for construction, making it responsible for a significant amount of global CO2 emissions. The growing demand for new buildings leads to an increasing production of concrete, with serious environmental consequences. Although methods exist to significantly reduce the use of concrete for construction, they are often too expensive to implement. This is because traditional construction systems use timber or metal formwork, which are inefficient for concrete structures with optimized shapes.

The global population is continuously increasing: by 2050 it will approach 10 billion people. Consequently, the demand for buildings is also set to grow: 800 million new concrete buildings are expected to be constructed over the next 30 years. There is therefore an urgent need to drastically reduce the use of concrete globally, and move towards a more sustainable way of building.

Foldcast offers a revolutionary solution: the use of paper as formwork material. This innovative approach enables the production of low-cost and fully recyclable formwork. Also, thanks to the flexibility provided by paper, the formwork allows the optimisation of the shape of structures, reducing the use of concrete by 50%.

To support this innovation, we developed advanced software that optimises the use of material in concrete structures and, at the same time, designs the paper formwork. The paper components are pre-cut with digital cutting machines, then shipped directly to the construction site or factory. Once assembled, the formwork is used for concrete casting. After the curing process, the paper is removed and reused or fully recycled.

At the end of this process, we can reduce by 40% the carbon footprint of concrete structural elements, while providing customized architectural designs.

Foldast received the Boldbrain Award 2023 and is currently pre-incubated at USI Startup Centre

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