The Queen’s Paper House

Okay – so I know this doesn’t look like a house and you know it doesn’t look like a house, but this is the University of Greenwich’s School of Architecture so you have to cut them some slack.

A paper landscape of real and fictitious structures constructed from paper and air, the Paper House is part of the London Festival of Architecture and looks, apparently, to underlying mathematical systems underpinning the Palladian and Modernist Villa. It’s a proposal for a giant inflatable structure as a temporary annex, extension and theatrical masque to Inigo Jones’s Queens House.

I’ll buy ‘temporary annex’ and ‘extension’. Not quite so sure that the concept of its being a ‘theatrical masque’ wears so well, though if they’d care to hold a theatrical masque inside it, I’ll go. Actually, I’m going anyway as the stuff that’s being organised looks really interesting.

No need to tell you where this 9X9X9m cube’s going to be, but you might like to know that it’s made from paper and 729m3 of air and will be full of said air between 11.0am and 4.00pm Friday 7th – Sunday 9th June.

The somewhat frustrating press release (on a non-interactive PDF – PR folks everywhere – JUST DON’T DO IT! CUT-AND-PASTE IS YOUR FRIEND!) fails to give a website where you can find more details about some amazing-looking events from the University, but after a lot of faff, I discovered that you can trawl through the Calendar for the London Festival of Archtiecture to find them.

I will just highlight one thing that looks very interesting and which you HAVE to book for (and sooner rather than later, ok?):

It’s a tour of the new buildings at Stockwell Street. 10 people at each of these times: 9.00, 10.00, 11.00 and 12.00, on Saturday 8th June, will get the opportunity to see the site, nose around what’s there so far and hear about what’s happening next. I’d quote the architects, Heneghan Peng, but I’ve had it with switching between documents for one day. To book, email

Okay, so I got out of the wrong side of the Phantom bed this morning, but seriously, this looks worth doing. Wade your way through the programme, there’s good stuff on.

the attachments to this post:

Queens paper House
Queens paper House

9 Comments to “The Queen’s Paper House”

  1. Meirion says:

    Thanks Phantom for tipping us off. I’ve emailed for a place on the tour to see if they can convince me the early betting is wrong. At the moment the School of Architecture must be favourite to win the coveted Carbuncle Cup for Greenwich for a second year in succesion after the Cutty Sark’s triumph in 2012. As it starts to take shape it looks totally inappropriate for the site opposite St Alfege’s – although it wouldn’t look out of place on an out-of-town science park. I know architects don’t like unobtrusive Georgian-style frontages but people do. If that’s too dull why not go for a series of facades showing the history of architecture – 10 yards of Amsterdam house front next to ten of black-and-white half-timbered, ten of Wren next to ten of Mies van der Rohe, ten of Thomas Archer next to ten of Zaha Hadid, ten of Vanburgh next to ten of old Greenwich pier style buildings, and ten yards of Frankie and Bennies next to ten of Heneghan Peng. That would learn the students. There’s a good virtual walkthrough of the new school on this site…

  2. Geoff3 says:

    Meirion, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it’s starting to dawn on the people who gave it their blessing how big and obtrusive this building is going to be.
    To broadly quote Councillor Chris Roberts: “I can’t like this building, we will repent at leisure” if the scheme is passed”. I think he’s gonna be right!

  3. Helen says:

    I spoke at planning board to oppose this build. The building is too large for the footprint, especially in such a sensitive area: we’re losing more and more of the curiousity of Greenwich old. The servicing of the building means 26tonne trucks going in and out of a narrow entrance on Nevada street, along the school route and right past the gates of the NMM and Greenwich Park. It could have been an amazing build, but I am completely disappointed with the overall design.

  4. Leah says:

    This is a beautiful and fragile design made of paper and will only be in place for a couple of days! Seems pretty miserable that something which encourages students to work hard and get creative is being objected to.
    This should also serve to bring attention to this wonderful historic site. I would also like to add that this is is a site which is constantly used for temporary filming structures often much larger and more disruptive. There are big problems opposite with the ugly school extension and proposed ‘community’ centre inside the peaceful Island Gardens park.Maybe concerns should be steered to that instead as it will ruin the view on a permanent basis?

  5. I don’t think the earlier commenter is objecting to the paper house, more to the new School of Architecture.

  6. Adam Leatherbarrow says:

    The building is truly fantastic, I’m an architecture student and to study in a place like that will only boost the Greenwich economy. If you want to see the building in how it was planned, the university offer a free lecture to all, phone the school of architecture up and find out the next date. I went to one this year and it’s amazing, the build is very complimentary to the residential at the rear of the plot and the street scene is brilliant. The actual design was done to develop subservient sections to actually be in keeping with the existing terraced commercial buildings

  7. Meirion says:

    I went round the Architecture School today. They were helpful, open and enthusiastic, and inside it will be pretty impressive when it opens in September 2014. I still think something more sympathetic to local architecture – brick and stone on the Paternoster Square model – would have fitted in much better but the stretch of buildings along Stockwell St are at least segmented and invite people in at ground level – cafe, art shop, gallery, Uni Greenwich shop etc. The problem comes with the monolithic side elevation along the railway which pretty much faces St Alfege’s and looks like a “60s office block. But at least architecture students like Adam won’t be able to see that because they’ll be inside with a view of St Alfege’s (or more likely, taking design cues from the Ibis Hotel) or perhaps smoking some wacky-backy on one of the fourteen roof gardens looking out at the Royal Naval College and the Dome (and unsuspecting local bathroom windows). The good news is that the Uni has done feasibility studies for covering over the railway and using it as the new access route to King William Walk which has been suggested here. At weekends it could be a walk-through market too, replacing some of the space that was lost to the bulldozers. The cost would be around £2 million so it won’t happen unless there’s lottery funding or the University can sell naming rights to the building in return – maybe to a local restaurant. The Jamie’s School of Greenwich Architecture anyone? The narrow walkway which will run between Stockwell St and King William Walk next to the railway in the meantime will be closed at night to deter loiterers.

  8. Meirion says:

    Oh and Leah the Phantom’s right I wasn’t objecting to the Paper Queen’s House. A little bird tells me that the Paper House was constructed in a building at the Avery Hill campus but then the architects remembered that someone had nailed the large French doors shut to repel thieves and so they couldn’t get it out of the building and had to dismantle it again.

  9. Geoff3 says:

    It’s a great big greedy building that doesn’t have any feelings for it’s neighbours. As for the local economy, both Greggs and Noodle Time must be gleefully rubbing their hands together!