New Trend in Modern Retailing Inspired by Japanese ‘Origami’

Inspired by Japanese paper folding ‘origami’ new trend in retailing is portable and aesthetically appealing. The Kiosks created by London-based architecture firm, Make Architects, in collaboration with metal fabricators, Entech Environmental Technology Ltd are a success and use models of origami throughout the design process. Two unique prefabricated retail kiosks opened to the public for the first time at Canary Wharf’s Ice Sculpturing Festival in London in the beginning of this year.

Modular Aluminum Koisks, London, Make Architects

“It was only when we were making [physical] models that we suddenly realized something was jamming, and that was really interesting.” Later, the designers built a full-scale mock-up out of cardboard and foam board. “That way we could really understand how it works,” explains Sean Affleck, Make Architects’ lead project architect.


The outer shell is made of 2-millimeter-thick aluminum plate which is crucial to mimic paper due to its lightweight and easy manipulation. Any other material would be too heavy.

Although lightweight the aluminum shell is not less resistant; the powder-coated aluminum cladding panels are highly durable against weather and graffiti, requiring minimal maintenance. The rest of the body uses stainless steel fabricated in-house.

To create a proper system that allowed opening and shutting the pop-up store with easiness the metal was folded, pressed and rolled. Such a process created an integral hinge into which a stainless steel rod was inserted. Very convenient a remote-control can do the job of opening and closing the kiosk with no stress.

“[The kiosk] had to be solid, but lightweight, so then that led us to origami,” says Affleck. “[You] end up with something very flimsy; add a few folds and creases, and suddenly the strength appears. In the folds, the shape appears.”

The vibrant opening is attractive to the public who also finds a shelter underneath the ‘origami’ roof. When okiosk3pened the inside of the sculptural rectangular box measures 2m deep and 3m wide, perfect for multitude of purposes; from serving coffee to information points to even a spot for DJs at events. The interiors lined with steel frames and a plywood-stressed skin can be customized by the vendors, depending where and when they are used. It is very comfortable to stand inside the rectangular ‘origami’ box, rain-skin cladding panels protects the changing vendor stories from insulation and reduced solar gain.


“Our solution on the modern street kiosk is a distinctive sculptural rectangular box that transforms when it opens and its function is revealed. The internal fit-out elements can be adapted to suit the needs of individual vendors”, says Affleck.

make architects folds prefabricated origami kiosks designboom

Aesthetically pleasing, the prefabricated pop-up stores are a great solution as urban furniture. When closed, the booths appear as futuristic sculptures, their matte grey exteriors evoking the steel and stone of the city, enhancing and revitalizing the public space.  The aesthetic form of the kiosks coupled with new activities and landscape would be able to provide a new urban platform for both tourists and locals alike.


Shanghai Metal Corporation offers a wide range of metals such as aluminum, widely used in the fabrication of prefabricated ‘origami’ pop-up stores. To find out more, please visit our Website or send your inquiry here. Our English speaking personnel will be more than pleased to help you. Follow us on  LinkedInTwitter, FacebookInstagram and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or you could try our new mobile app by scanning our QR code.

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Camilla G.//SMC Editor

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‘Till Kingdom Come

In the world of skyscraper construction, developers know only superlatives. This week, the race to the top sees the crowning of a new King. Set to be the tallest, most expensive and famous building in the world, Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower began being built last Friday.


Never yet had a building surpassed a kilometer in height, but our new millennium finally has its man-made counterpart. This US$1.2 billion dollar project, envisioned by HRH King Alwaleed, will contain residential, commercial and office units on its 170 floors, as well as a 4 seasons hotel.

Building the new gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina will require more than ambition though, it also needs over 80,000 tonnes of steel. This presents huge opportunity for the firms involved in the construction process. The Saudi King has chosen his longtime partners the Saudi Binladin group for the vital task of erecting the structure’s vertical steel backbone. The steel-based foundations meanwhile are to be built by German firm Bauer.

Kingdom Tower -630x420

Testing steel quality is now underway and has been outsourced to ACTS, a Lebanese expert company, who will deploy over 100 staff members on the operation. ACTS said that the extreme height of the Kingdom Tower meant that it would be required to use high strength, high performance concrete and to use special equipment to evaluate how the concrete flowed so that it could be pumped to very high elevations.

In 5 years time the building will open and become the new center for economic activity in the area, but for how long will it remain the world’s tallest building? That much is uncertain. What we can be sure of, though, is that wherever the King sits, he will be built with steel – hundreds of thousands of tonnes of it.

Sources: The National Dubai Real Estate, Jeddah Economic Company, Bloomberg Businessweek, World Steel Association.