Paper Cliff Society

Well, I was watching a stressful documentary series the other day and needed something to do with my hands, so I started cutting up these 4x6 index cards (which are sitting around because I got the wrong size by mistake) and making little buildings. Some of the buildings I made just to see if I could achieve a certain effect- a pyramid, a temple, an ampitheatre, a wave shape. Some of them I was just messing around and seeing what happens. For all of them I was thinking "would I like being in or around this building?".

Eventually they built up to a little town and I put them up on the shelf next to the noise tapes. The documentary was good but it was about living in a modernistic nightmare hellzone, so it was a blessing to have a pleasant distraction that oscillates in my mind between a), being huge and I live there peacefully, and b), being only this big, for a society of tiny creatures not dissimilar to me, that eat some kind of mineral and play some kind of music and busy themselves in some sort of way. Anyway let's take a look at a few of them.

Simple house


OK I just made this one right now to have a simple one to demostrate the basic method of contruction, but for a house this is a pretty nice little one. There's a garage out front, a nice little lookout spot on top, a little cutaway to get more light in on the third floor, lots of roof space to hang out on-- all in all not great but not bad!

As you can see there's no tape or glue, only cuts and folds using a single 4x6 index card. Here it is at a slight angle so you can get a better idea of what's happening:


From a contruction standpoint there's just one basic move with three steps: cut crease and push--


Nothing is cut out or cut off-- if you folded any of these buildings flat they would all look like a 4x6 index card with a few cuts and creases in them, but generally whole.

For the sake of imagining these as buildings, we'll presume that all sides are closed, not open. And maybe this is obvious but we'll imagine them not as being made of index cards but white-painted adobe, or glass, or whatever buildings are made of. Oh yeah, and even though the models are all the same size, the buildings they represent range in size from Humble Abode to Towering Structure.


Although this paper construction method requires a backpiece, I think of this one as standing freely, with this construction repeated on all sides. Though it would also work as something built into a cliff face or hillside, which is how I imagine the others.

This pyramid would be unique among pyramids in that the simplest climb to the top is by traveling along the corners, not up the broad face. That's a nice little detail. But if this was my tomb I don't think I'd want that, I'd want to maximize the hang space so gothic teens can lounge. I mean sure there's plenty of spots to chill, make out, smoke a clove cigarette, do a photoshoot, etc., but if someone on one of the upper levels dropped a nalgene bottle and it rolled over the edge, there are a few places where it could fall quite a bit before it clonks you on the head. The benefit of the traditional pyramid is that rolling beverage containers fall 1 step at a time, max. That's something they got right the very first time, regarding pyramids.

Apartment Building

Why do they call it an Apartment building when you're like right on top of each other?? Anyway here's 3 units available immediately, abutting a majestic cliff face. I'm thinking there's a first floor apartment and then two multi-story units of different sizes on the upper levels, one on the left and one on the right. That's how I'd do it. I mean doing it as 2 row houses, just split down the middle, that would be great, but not everyone wants that much space, sometimes you want a nice little zone to tuck in to and then your life is lived out there, in the wind.

Science Building

I tried to maximize the edge length on this one, it gives it sort of a chess board feeling. Also it gives you more room for windows than you'd get from a flat wall. Inside, in the bulk of the building, there are horrible furnaces and diabolical centrifuges, but on the skin of it it's all bright offices, cafes, and arboraetums. Everyone wants a corner office so shit baby, why not, we can add corners wherever we want. The very very top houses a terrible little man, as is customary. He comes out sometimes and sits on the ledge to the right (stage left) and takes off his shoes and dangles his feet.

Management Building

Everyone hates going here.

Serpentine Building

When I first moved to Providence and I was living at the mills, my roommate Shit Police came and got me one night and said "Hey, check it out"-- there were a few people climbing up the outside of the building across the alley. It didn't seem like they were breaking in, because there were obviously easier ways in to the building and besides the building was just a storage facility for a moldy couch store. I think they were like, parkour people. Anyway it was awesome, they basically just jumped up and grabbed something, a window ledge or something, then pulled themselves up, then reached up from there on tippietoes and grabbed the next thing, sometimes balancing on a rail or standing on just 3 inches of a ledge or cornice. When they got to the top they just put their hands on their hips like "well, I did it" and looked around. Anyway I made this building so it looks fun to climb around on it. Even if no one ever did climb it, it's fun to think "I'd jump up there, then run along there, then up there, over to there...". I've always done this, even before seeing the night parkour people. The front is fairly blank because there's not much space to build into in the front, maybe there's a road there or something.

Sphinx Building

Here's another fun one to think about climbing on-- you could start at either corner and criss cross your way up. This isn't an occupied building, it's an architectural folly, possibly located at the end of a long reflecting pool. A folly is building made on purpose just as a place to walk to and walk around in while you think about other realms (NB: I gave up "staying indoors all day" for Lent). Inside this one it's "just shapes". That's where my imagination stopped.

Mild Diagonal Building

The goal here was to oppose two different diagonals at different scales. I like having these step forms and I love hanging out on roofs, but I realized while I was making these that when I'm looking out from a window, I like to look out from more than one story above a horizontal surface. I don't want to look out to ground level or onto an elevated surface. And disregarding mere preference, sometimes I need to eliminate the possibility that someone could be walking around just outside the window. It's a security feature. So this satisfies those feature requests in a harmonious manner with a few substantial drop-offs. I'd live here.

Wave Building A

Sakiko came in while I was working on these and I told her I'm using rectangles but trying to make other shapes, beyond just rectangles. She said, "oh, like a wave or something?". I was like damn well I'm working on triangle right now but OK let me do a wave. Anyway the first try came out pretty good! This is like a convention center, with a huge hall that gets a lot of light, a few medium large spaces, and then a bunch of smaller spaces with offices, restaurants, small theatres and what not. Tuesday at the Wave: Carpet Show, Popcorn Expo, Stage Magician's Union gathering, Tiddywinks World Semi-Finals.

Messy Temple

It's a little rustic, maybe a little silly, and one day soon it'll just be a pile of sticks and plaster, but aren't we all a little rustic and a little silly, and aren't we all one day soon just a pile of sticks and plaster? I am. Please come to our barbeque, we're trying to raise money to shore up our listing antechamber. There's gonna be food, games, tunes (the teen group has a surf band), it'll be great.

Wave Building B

This is like Wave Building A but it's a gentler wave, and in deeper water. This is probably the most pleasing design, and maybe because of that I can't even think of what this would be, as a building. The only activity I could think of is that this is where we sit and watch the Perseid meteor showers (?) while throwing cans of beer and ears of corn to our friends sitting on levels above and below.

Other Buildings

Ok, sorry if I'm stacking these fantasias too deleriously, but I had to see if I could make a cliff society version of the castle. I mean that's my main focus in completely imagined buildings right now. The answer is of course I can make the castle. It came out great.

It has the door, the window, it's own manufactured horizon, and even an undefined Heavenly Orb! It doesn't look exactly like the website but it's a pretty good solution using the tools at hand.

I made a bunch of these castle models and already started sending them out to anyone that donates any amount to the castle. It's an open edition. If you want one just navigate to the temple area and drop any amount of coin in the box. It's a great size for a shelf next to the noise tapes, though it's also light enough that you could tape it to the wall, or tape it upside down where the wall meets the ceiling. There's a lot of real estate up there.

No other building is available other than the castle-- I'm still adding to the set and I want to see what they all look like when there's a big pile of them. I still have 2 episodes of this stressful documentary left.

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other posts you may enjoy (chosen at random) :
Device Must Be Earthed
Sayable Space / Mike's Crush
My Stupid Little Walk