Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


Modular and Macromodular Origami - Definitions and Notes
Modular Origami
Modular origami is a two stage paperfolding technique which uses multiple sheets of paper.  
  In the first stage each individual sheet of paper is folded into a module.

In the second stage the modules are assembled into a self-integrating and stable geometric form.

  'Self-integrating' means that the modules should hold firmly together by themselves. Multiple sheet designs which are either simple arrangements of several folded pieces or are integrated by external means such as glue, tape or thread are not modular origami designs.
Similarly designs which are integrated by gravity, such as a stack of triangular section tubes, do not qualify as modular origami designs, however artfully arranged.  
  There is no particular logic to the inclusion of the word 'geometric' in this definition but it is there to reflect the normal practice within the paperfolding community of speaking of representational self-integrating designs as multiple sheet designs rather than as modular designs.
There is no requirement within the definition of modular origami that all the modules should be identical, though they often are.  
  The two stages of the modular process are not as separate as this definition suggests. In some modular designs, such as Cloud of Stars pictured left, the folding continues after the modules have been assembled. I call these kinds of designs three stage modular designs.
There are, of course, degrees of stability. As a rough rule of thumb guide I would expect that a modular design would be able to be picked up fairly randomly in one hand without falling apart. Ideally it should be able to be tossed gently into the air and caught again.  
  It is also worth noting that there is no limitation within the definition on the papershape that the modules are folded from. Choosing the best paper shape to fold a module from tends to make the folding process simpler and more elegant. This matters when you are making lots of modules.
Macromodular Origami
Macromodular origami is a development of modular origami in which complete modular assemblies (known as macromodules) are combined into integrated second-generation structures ...  
  ... either just by themselves or with the addition of extra modules to act as separating or joining pieces.
While macromodular structures do not need to be self-integrating in the same way as modular assemblies they should not need to be held together by external means such as glue, tape or thread.  
  However a stack of macromodules held together by nothing except gravity is still considered to be a macromodular form.