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These incredible floating homes are made of a surprising material — and they're built to last for over 50 years

The chic houses look like they're made of wood but are actually made from 24 layers of corrugated cardboard.

Wikkelhouse, Incredible floating homes

Photo Credit: @goinggreenmedia / Instagram

If you've ever said you'd be happy living in a cardboard box, you may get your chance to prove it sooner than you think. 

A group of five tiny homes in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is making quite a splash in the world of sustainable building. Ben&Ciara (@goinggreenmedia) shared a video of the floating tiny house made entirely of cardboard. 

The Wikkelboats are one version of the Wikkelhouse, meaning "wrapped house" in Dutch, made by a company called the Fiction Factory. The chic houses look like they're made of wood but are actually made, according to the video, from 24 layers of corrugated cardboard that have been compressed together. 

The Wikkelhouse Story from Wikkelhouse on Vimeo.

The tiny homes are sustainable in many ways, including using clean energy sources like solar and wind for power and water-saving shower heads. However, being made of cardboard is the true feat of sustainability.

While the idea of cardboard structures was pioneered by architect Shigeru Ban in the late 1980s and 1990s when he made them to help refugees and disaster evacuees, its widespread application could revolutionize the construction industry.

The building construction industry is responsible for nearly 40% of the world's energy-related harmful carbon pollution. The cement industry is especially bad, accounting for 8% of emissions of toxic, earth-warming gases, and these numbers are only getting higher.  

Inger Anderson, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said, "Rising emissions in the buildings and construction sector emphasize the urgent need for a triple strategy to aggressively reduce energy demand in the built environment, decarbonize the power sector, and implement materials strategies that reduce lifecycle carbon emissions."

The Wikkelhouse is implementing one such material strategy. The cardboard used in its customizable, modular homes is durable and incredibly sustainable. It yields four times more material from one tree than using wood alone, and the houses made from it are built to last upward of 50 years

When complete, these houses are said to be more eco-friendly than a house made from traditional materials, and they provide excellent insulation because the cardboard naturally traps heat between each of its 24 layers. Further, they are incredibly lightweight, which eliminates the need for a cement-based concrete foundation. 

Another huge advantage of using compressed cardboard as a building material is that it can be recycled and reused as a manufacturing component creating a more circular economy in sustainable building construction.  

There are currently 150 Wikkelhouses worldwide, and while where they're available is still limited, the trend of using sustainable building materials like their compressed cardboard is gaining speed. 

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