TAICHUNG, Taiwan (Reuters Life!) - The Leaning Tower of Pisa stands precariously enough on its stone base, but a team of Taiwan crafts people has made a sturdy replica of it with nothing but paper scraps.
The Italian landmark joins an Eiffel Tower look-alike and Dutch windmills at a 5,200 square-meter theme park that features about 500 structures, some life-sized, built entirely of cartons or cardboard.
The Carton King Creativity Park opened three years ago to help a declining family-run packaging business turn a new page and teach hundreds of daily visitors to cherish paper.
"It's to give people an understanding of creativity and pass on an environmental message," said Huang Fang-liang, general manager of the park's founding company Chin Tang Paperware Co. "It's to say that after using something, you can use it again."
The park's sturdy structures, such as a paper restaurant with paper furnishings even down to the utensils, occupy Chin Tang's former printing factory that had seen business fade because of cheap labor and low costs in China.
Huang led a dozen artists in experimenting with paper, and they spent up to three months on construction.
"I thought the paper chairs would collapse pretty quickly, but now I see everybody is seated and they are still quite firm," said park restaurant visitor Hsu Chiu-wen, 20, a university student. "This table is also made of paper, but it doesn't collapse under the weight of all the tableware."
Some of the building blocks can withstand water or flames and can be folded up for storage during typhoons.
Chin Tang is preparing for an exhibition in Beijing next month and plans to open a paper hot springs resort in Taiwan.
(Reporting by Christine Lu, Ben Tai and Ralph Jennings; Editing by Chris Lewis)