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★ Origamic Architecture Instructions & Free Kirigami Templates ★

Updated on January 19, 2015
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Architectural Origami Inspiration Roundup

Kirigami is the combination of origami and paper cutting crafts, and is a brilliant hobby to start because all you basically need is a craft knife and paper! Origamic architecture is the use of kirigami to create 3D buildings from a clever use of folds and cuts within just one single piece of paper.

Below you will find information for beginners to this art, as well as a number of free templates and projects for practice. Mainly I will focus on paper buildings constructed in a folded sheet, which means that this fascinating technique is also perfectly suited to using on pop-up greeting cards.

There are also links to awe-inspiring works by paper artists, as well as a number of photographs showing what you can achieve with only the seemingly simple acts of cutting and folding.

I hope you find this page interesting and useful :)

Big City Artwork

Inspired by Amsterdam.
Inspired by Amsterdam. | Source

Kirigami Introduction

Architectural origami is the art of paper cutting to create 3D buildings - from just one sheet of paper! The designs range from the simple to the exceptionally intricate, and the subject matter can be anything from a whole city to a famous landmark or even your own house.

This page will focus on 90° pop-up buildings and detailed shapes, where the 3D design emerges and is fully visible when the paper is folded to an angle of 90 degrees. That means that this technique is well suited to making impressive pop-up cards as well - although you won't be mass producing these for all your colleagues at Christmas (unless you start in January!)

Below you will find inspirational examples of origami artist's work, advice for creating your own artwork, plus free online downloads. After saving the free templates to your computer, print them out and cut and fold along the lines. Usually, (but check first), the solid black lines are cut all of the way through, the red lines are mountain folds (the folded edges point upwards/towards you) and the blue lines are valley folds (where the folded edges point away from you).

If the lines are straight, use a steel ruler alongside your craft knife to get neat, perfectly straight cuts. For the folds, score lightly along the lines first to get a neat edge. Enjoy!

Top-Rated Kirigami Books

Probably the best source for any craft you wish to pursue is a book dedicated to the subject; all of the expert advice, instructions, inspiring examples, stunning photos, templates and project tutorials are all compiled in one place.

The Paper Architect: Fold-It-Yourself Buildings and Structures
The Paper Architect: Fold-It-Yourself Buildings and Structures

This spiral-bound book is a great introduction for beginners to origamic architecture and paper cutting. There are step-by-step instructions for creating mini replicas of buildings such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower, which require patience but look spectacular when completed.

 
Origami Architecture: Papercraft Models of the World's Most Famous Buildings: Origami Book with 16 Projects & Instructional DVD
Origami Architecture: Papercraft Models of the World's Most Famous Buildings: Origami Book with 16 Projects & Instructional DVD

This book helps you to recreate the world's most famous structures, from the Arc de Triomphe to Tower Bridge, using just a craft knife and some card. There are templates for 16 buildings in all, so there's plenty to keep you busy.

 
The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Making Pop-Ups & Novelty Cards: A how-to guide to the art of paper engineering, featuring over 100 techniques and ... 1000 fantastic photographs and illustrations
The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Making Pop-Ups & Novelty Cards: A how-to guide to the art of paper engineering, featuring over 100 techniques and ... 1000 fantastic photographs and illustrations

This book focusses on a wide variety of pop-up designs, including pop-up buildings. Packed with color photos, it walks you through 100 different paper engineering techniques so that you can make some amazingly intricate projects.

 
Creating Kirigami: Elegant Paper Cutting Designs
Creating Kirigami: Elegant Paper Cutting Designs

Make your own 3D decorative sculptures and shapes with this kit - which includes paper in assorted colors. Learning via hands-on projects like this is the best way to learn and practice your skills.

 
Kirigami Fold & Cut-a-day 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar
Kirigami Fold & Cut-a-day 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar

Fun for adults or kids, this calendar gets you involved by providing the paper and the instructions for you to make a little paper craft every day of the year!

 

Tutorials & How-To Videos

Beginner's Diagram 1

origamic-architecture-diagram
origamic-architecture-diagram

Looking at the diagram above, the gray block is the part that I want to stand vertical when the page is folded. To do this I need to place it on the 'fold line' so that the bottom edge of the shape is a certain distance underneath the fold line (distance = x). x is how far the gray shape will stand out (forward) from the page when the page is folded in half.

Once x is decided you will need to add strips above each horizontal edge of the gray shape, and the height of each of these strips must be x. This will make sure the gray shape stands vertically.

If you want the gray shape to be slanted, then you can either make the x's below the fold line smaller than those above or vice versa. However you must keep all of the x's above the fold line equal, otherwise it just won't work.

Hope that's clear!

NOTE: Every solid black line = where you cut through the paper. The other lines are fold lines.

Famous Landmarks

Source

Beginner's Diagram 2

origamic-architecture-beginners-diagram
origamic-architecture-beginners-diagram

* Gray block = the part that will be the stand-out shape. When the page has been folded in half and held at a 90 degree angle, this gray shape will stand vertically.

* x = both the distance between the page fold and the bottom edge of the main shape, and the distance between the top valley fold and the top hill folds on the main shape. This distance represents how far the main (gray) shape will stand out from the background.

* Solid black lines = where the paper must be cut. The other lines (red, blue and dashed) are fold lines.

The important thing to note in this design is that you can't join a curved shape like you can a flat edge. This means the curved top in this shape will not be connected by a strip of paper to the background of the design, and so will be unsupported.

Backlit Origami

Source

Mini Kirigami Book

Source

Beginner's Diagram 3

origamic-architecture-how-to
origamic-architecture-how-to

* Gray block = the shape which will stand vertically when the page has been folded (along the 'page fold' line) and held at a 90 degree angle.

* x = both the distance between the page fold and the bottom edge of the main shape, and the distance between the top valley folds and the top hill folds on the main gray shape. This x distance represents how far the main (gray) shape will stand out from the background and this must be equal for each of the 3 rectangle heights labelled in the diagram.

If all of the measurements labelled x weren't equal, then it just wouldn't work and everything would be wonky.

* Solid black lines = where the paper must be cut. The other lines (red, blue and dashed) are fold lines.

More Handy Video Instructions

Recreate a House In Your Neighborhood

Larry Gould has incorporated landscape with kirigami to recreate his neighbor's house.
Larry Gould has incorporated landscape with kirigami to recreate his neighbor's house. | Source

Beginner's Diagram 4

origamic-architecture-paper
origamic-architecture-paper

* Gray blocks = the pop-up shapes that you will see from the front. When the paper is folded in half and held at 90 degrees, these gray blocks will stand vertically. The larger gray block is the main pop-up shape, whilst the smaller gray block is the secondary pop-up shape.

* Solid black lines = where the paper must be cut with a craft knife. The red, blue and dashed lines represent fold lines.

* x = both the distance between the page fold and the bottom edge of the main shape, and the distance between the top valley fold and the top hill folds on the main shape. This distance represents how far the main (gray) shape will stand out from the background.

* y = the same principle as x but is referring to the secondary pop-up shape instead. y is both the distance between the bottom edges of the secondary and the main gray blocks, and the distance between the top valley fold and the top hill fold on the secondary shape. y represents the distance that the secondary block will stand out from the main block.

The diagram shows how to make a shape pop out of a larger pop-up shape.

Night & Day Cityscape

Inspired by New York city.
Inspired by New York city. | Source

Beginner's Diagram 5

origamic-architecture-kirigami
origamic-architecture-kirigami

* Gray blocks = the shape that will pop-up into a vertical position when the paper is folded in half (along the 'page fold') and held at 90 degrees. This is a castle design.

* Solid black lines = where the paper must be cut. The red, blue and dashed lines represent folds.

* x = both the distance between the page fold and the bottom edge of the main shape, and the distance between the top valley folds and the top hill folds on the main shape. This distance represents how far the main (gray) shape will stand out from the background.

If any of the distances marked as 'x' aren't equal, then the pop-up will be wonky.

Inspiration & Ideas on Youtube

Beginner's Diagram 6

origamic-pop-up-buildings
origamic-pop-up-buildings

This diagram shows a vertical page fold rather than the horizontal page folds used in the previous diagrams. Same principle...just on it's side! Tall building shapes - like skyscrapers - are best suited to the portrait layout.

* Gray blocks = the pop-up shape, which is a very simple building shape. The triangle at the top is unsupported on the sides.

* Solid black lines = where you need to cut the paper.

* Dashed line = where the page is folded, and red/blue lines represent folds.

This is a symmetrical shape, and once the cuts and folds are made, two boxes will be created; one large one at the bottom, and a thinner one on top with a triangle roof.

Casares in Spain

A great thing about origamic architecture is that you base your designs on actual places - perhaps your favourite holiday destination, a famous landmark or even your home town.
A great thing about origamic architecture is that you base your designs on actual places - perhaps your favourite holiday destination, a famous landmark or even your home town. | Source

Have you tried origamic architecture before?

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    • profile image

      jaya gundurao 22 months ago

      Awesome. Is there any possibility of sharing big project template.? I am 64 but very enthusiastic to learn before I leave this world.

    • giovannirussograf profile image

      GIOVANNIRUSSOGRAFICO 2 years ago from Limena, Padua, Italy

      Our 3D Popup kirigami postcards (Origamic architecture - paper engineering):

      https://www.behance.net/giovannirussografico

      http://thecreativefinder.com/portfolio-broad.php?u...

    • MG Seltzer profile image

      MG Seltzer 2 years ago from South Portland, Maine

      I think my daughter will love this! I am sending her the link. Voted this thumbs up.

    • Mariapesma profile image

      Mariapesma 2 years ago from Greece

      All your patterns are really beautiful, especially the backlit origami and night & day cityscape, they attract my interesting to start making this nice hobby.

    • profile image

      Jackie 2 years ago

      Would you have templates for Sagrada Familia, Pueblos and the Colosseum? I really really need it.

    • profile image

      Brandi 2 years ago

      This page is amazing! I love the super clear explanations of the logic behind the designs. I feel like I can come up with my own now (after I practice with some templates, thanks for those links)! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for.

    • Nimblepins profile image

      Nimblepins 2 years ago

      The examples are beautiful. I especially like the backlit ones. This was really interesting to read and look at - thanks!

    • profile image

      juan 2 years ago

      Sitio impresionante. Muy professional y pedagogico

    • profile image

      LZ 2 years ago

      What a wonderful site. Thanks for sharing. Do you have any pattern for sle?

    • wellingtonboot profile image
      Author

      wellingtonboot 3 years ago from U.K.

      @playulheart: Thanks! There are some social media buttons at the top :)

    • profile image

      playulheart 3 years ago

      These are just gorgeous. How can I like your page?

    • profile image

      manyflyart 3 years ago

      This is exactly the technique i need for my art book!! Thanx a lot :D

    • EditPhotos profile image

      Edit Photos 3 years ago from Earth

      Wow! Just awesome. Bookmarked this for the summer (when I only work one job instead of three). Wow!

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 3 years ago

      Thanks a lot, that is really I am looking for!

    • profile image

      smsr0100451 3 years ago

      Amazing work. I want to learn it.

    • qikey1 lm profile image

      qikey1 lm 3 years ago

      Wow! I have introduced my kids to origami but I had never heard of kirigami. I will have to look into this further. We love to do these kind of crafts around the holidays or when the weather gets bad.

    • profile image

      jiancara 3 years ago

      amazing..i like to try them!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      These are awesome. I've never seen anything like them.

    • profile image

      tavishbojo19 4 years ago

      really impressed ith squidoo site. I will definitely return here.

    • wanzsing profile image

      wanzsing 4 years ago

      Amazing stuff...Loved the way you go into intricate details...

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 5 years ago

      A fun lens on paper architecture!

    • reflectionhaiku profile image

      reflectionhaiku 5 years ago

      The pictures, designs and tutorials are fascinating. Thanks for sharing -