Giant origami, so called to differentiate it from traditional origami or origami. For this, a moderate-sized sheet of paper is usually the starting point for making the figures and models. In the case of giant origami, the resulting figure is of large proportions, but retains its apparent simplicity as a folded object, its formal synthesis. As cubism did with figuration, the most orthodox origami does it by the very procedure of folding, without cutting or gluing.

A tour of origami sculptures

In a previous post I spoke of plant sculpture as a fantasy, like the romantic vision of a Ruskin or a Jules Verne. But on so many occasions the human imagination is ahead of reality. The plant sculpture is a variety of the general giant origami project, as it is scalable in its uses and appearance. In the case of the plant sculpture project I did it looking for complicity with nature and ecological empathy. But on other occasions I have made use of giant origami for exhibition projects of dissemination and with a message, with an exhibition discourse based on these large figures as icons referring to specific themes.

Giant origami, simulation of prototype for brontosaurus in Etxebarria Park

Giant origami, simulation of prototype for brontosaurus in Etxebarria Park

Bilbao Aurrera, an informative project

On the occasion of a competition proposal from Bilbao City Council, Bilbao Aurrera 2021, I presented an exhibition project for a route of giant origami sculptures. In this case it was an informative and cultural project entitled “Bilbao, from industrialisation to leisure”. The setting was the Etxebarria Park, which was a very important steelworks in the origins of Bilbao’s industrialisation, thus conditioning the whole exhibition discourse.

It was an artistic and informative proposal. The exhibition discourse was to be illustrated by a set of sculptures in folded metal mesh which, distributed around Echevarría Park, would explain the conversion of an industrial and metallurgical setting into a green and leisure setting in today’s Bilbao.

Seal prototype for Malabar Seal, mesh and plastic

Seal prototype for Malabar Seal, mesh and plastic

The figures in metal mesh would evoke through this material the past of the place as a centre of the metallurgical industry, and in addition each of the figures has an iconography in relation to its specific location. So in this exhibition the folded mesh sculptures would not be textured, leaving their metallic material visible as an evocation of what it was, industry, and what it is today, leisure.

And as a secondary objective, to highlight the Sustainable Development Goals, whose successful application has made it possible for Bilbao to be a much better city to live in. Better than the Bilbao that went down in the annals of history after deindustrialisation, as a highly productive but highly polluted and polluting city. And its shift towards a city of tourism and services.

Model selection and catalogue

One of the most interesting challenges in this type of exhibition is to select the catalogue of models or icons. This selection articulates the discourse, in the manner of a “stop trottoir” or explanatory panel, but in a figurative and iconic way.

Sketches for some giant origami models of the project "Bilbao, from industrialisation to leisure" for the Bilbao Aurrera 2021 programme.

Sketches for some giant origami models of the project “Bilbao, from industrialisation to leisure” for the Bilbao Aurrera 2021 programme.

For example, the proposal for Bilbao Aurrera included everything from a Malabar seal to cows, a beer mug and an angel, among other suggestions. And all of them referenced information, details and curiosities about the proposed theme, “Bilbao, from industrialisation to leisure”, and the framework for the exhibition, the  Etxebarria Park.

These made reference to the search for sustainability, to the traditional dairy farms from before industrialisation, to the pioneering breweries such as “La Salve”, and to the now displaced old Mallona cemetery, which was annexed to the current park.

Playing card sketch of a beer mug model

Playing card sketch of a beer mug model

Scalable project, and we continue

This project, “Bilbao, from industrialisation to leisure” for the Bilbao Aurrera programme, despite its approved viability. But it was not shown due to competition with other projects that were more convenient for the Bilbao City Council at the time. But, being a scalable project, perhaps it was not the right time at the time.

I am currently thinking about the application of the giant origami technique for projects ranging from gardening and decoration, to landscape restoration, leisure and even the application for renewable energy collection.

Folded wire mesh Elephant Model

Folded wire mesh Elephant Model

To remember;

The vegetable sculpture in L’Atelier de Santi – El atelier de Santi