Modular origami is a complex thing. In order
to be able to think, talk and write about it in a
meaningful way, I have both developed a set of concepts
and invented phrases. and occasionally words, to try to
describe its complexity. These ideas, and this language,
are both summarised on this page. There are links to more
detailed information on each topic if you are interested.
relating to modular origami assemblies
A modular form is a flat shape or
three-dimensional structure that can be produced
by combining two or more self-integrating folded
paper modules. A Classification of
Modular Forms offers an analysis of some of the
many types of form that modular origami can
An assembly system is the way in which
the modules self-integrate with each other to
create the modular form. Assembly systems are
discussed in Modular Assembly
The way in which the surface of the
form is made up of, or broken down into,
individual modules can be called the modular method. For a more
detailed explanation see Modular Method and Method Analogues.
Similarly, the way in which the
visible surface of the form is divided into
visually distinct regions can be called the modular pattern. This is intimately
connected to modular method but it is not quite
the same thing. For a full explanation see Modular Pattern.
of the complexity of modular origami arises because any
given modular form may be able to be achieved in several
(sometimes many) different ways by combining modules of
differing designs and surface patterns in differing
numbers using different assembly systems.
relating to individual modules
The fundamental characteristics of a module are about the
way it holds together with other modules. Modules tend to
fall into broad families that hold together in the same
way. An introduction to the most usually met modular
families can be found on the page Modules and Modular Families.
The folding method is the way in which
the module is created from the starting shape (ie
the unfolded sheet of paper). It is often
possible to create modules with the same
fundamental characteristics using several
different folding methods, or by beginning with a
variety of different folding shapes. The nature
of folding geometries is discussed in Folding Geometries
and Angular Systems and the properties
of some useful rectangles in Useful Rectangles.
Quite frequently the folding method
can be varied to alter the modular pattern
without altering the fundamental characteristics
of the module.
Many basic modules are flat shapes
that can be configured by the addition of
extra folds to increase, sometimes vastly, the
range of forms that the module will make without
changing the fundamental characteristics of the
module. More subtly, a module may be reconfigured
by simply widening or closing the angles between
the various sections of the module without the
addition of extra creases.