Home -> Projects -> Buildings -> Sci-Fi Buildings

Sci-Fi Buildings

Sci-Fi BuildingsNigel Budd has developed a technique for making buildings from pre-formed cardboard and plastic packaging reinforced with expanding foam. A lot of household objects come with these soft cardboard inserts in the packaging now, specially mobile phones and computer parts and consumables.

As usual the trick is in adding detailing to bring these models to life.</td>

Making these buildings is really easy. First find your cardboard, mine were Laser Printer cartridges, but I have found some interesting shapes from mobile phone boxes, and I am sure there are hundreds of other places.

Sci-Fi BuildingsFill with expanding foam filler, making sure you put loads of newspaper down or better still do it outside. Wear the gloves provided and don't get any of the stuff on your carpet or your best clothes. You need to fill the container about 1/3 full try to fill in all the recessed areas as best as you can. Then leave it overnight.

After the foam has fully expanded it will probably have spilled out of the container. Use a hacksaw to saw the foam flush with the bottom of the container. You now have a nice building bottom which makes it easy to glue to a base. The building itself should be really ridged. My printer cartridge was really wide, it could have made a long building, but I chose to disguise its source by sawing it in half to get two buildings. To fill the area where I cut the buildings into two, I cut out a shaped piece of foamcard, this was then detailed with some more cardboard and had a door added. This section was then glued to the building.

Sci-Fi BuildingsThe whole thing was glued to a base which I then textured with floor tile grout (left over from my last DIY project) A sand/glue mix would do just as well. I added a few details, pen nibs, pieces from a PCB to add features such as windows, chimneys, heatsinks, air-con units etc., just to make the buildings more interesting.

The door of this building is corrugated plastic.

I wanted to keep the paint job simple, so I washed the textured base with black and drybrushed with a sandy coloured paint. I wanted a scorched earth/alien planet look, I expect a grassed finish would look good too. I painted the buildings black, and drybrushed a lighter shade of the base highlight.

The really nice thing about strengthening the structure with foam is you can then carve out areas with a hobby knife. In this building I carved out a section so I could inset the door. The door itself is just a couple of layers of cardboard with shapes cut out.

Sci-Fi Buildings Sci-Fi Buildings

This is a close up of the window for this building. The window frame is actually a plastic paperclip with the middle bit cut out. The back of the window is more textured plastic. Underneath the window is a pen lid painted to look like it's some sort of moisture capture or generator. Some plastic containers offer potential too:

I think this was a plastic form from a smoke detector or something like that, its about 25mm high I added ready mixed plaster in rough patches over the plastic leaving some bits of the plastic uncovered with plaster, this gives it a very rough plastered effect that I hope shows up in the photo.

Sci-Fi Buildings Sci-Fi Buildings

This turned out very well, it is a supermarket container that either contained strawberries or cherry tomatoes.

I filled with foam, allowed to cure and then based it. The wall strengthening pillar on one side is a few rough cuts of foamcard. I then sliced into the plastic and foam and created an alcove for a cardboard door. It has needlework pins pushed into the cardboard to give the appearance of rivets.
This is a power station. I think this was a ready made pasta-salad from a supermarket, quite a high sided round structure with a flat area on the front for the price sticker. This flat area I quickly decided to make the door. I added some chimney pieces, quite a large number of cardboard squares with a square hole in the middle, in the middle I added some car repair mesh.

Sci-Fi Buildings

These squares were glued all the way around the building to give the impression of air vents. There are a couple of pipes and things also sticking out of the structure to give it a couple more areas of interest to look at.

Sci-Fi Buildings Sci-Fi Buildings Sci-Fi Buildings Sci-Fi Buildings

[Page Top] [Site Home]