What happens inside our lungs when a flu virus attacks? Origami Outbreak is an installation in which participants join researchers to fold and model a beautiful origami immune response and find out about the fascinating processes of infection, immunity and vaccination.

People look at origami

This project was created through a collaboration between origami and papercraft artist Tina Luo and researchers from the National Heart and Lung Institute exploring our immune response to respiratory viruses. 

people sit at table with coloured paper

People were invited to fold and construct modular origami shapes representing different immune cells, antibodies and the flu virus.

instructions on origami virusesFour separate installations represented four individuals with different immune responses to the flu virus. One was a baby, one was a vaccinated healthy adult, one an unvaccinated healthy adult and one of them had asthma.

origami balloons on displayPeople were also invited to contribute their own opinions and experiences about flu through a series of voting installations. They were asked about their personal experiences of how it feels to have flu, how seriously they consider flu as a health concern, whether or not they would choose to have the flu vaccine and if so were their reasons to protect themselves or others.

Voting boxes

Origami Outbreak was presented at Imperial Lates: Infectious, November 2019.

Collaborators: James Harker (Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Science), Ryan Thwaites (Research Associate), Emma Smith (HIC-Vac Communications Lead), Jess Smith (Public Engagement & Patient Involvement Co-ordinator, Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma), Emma Slater (Public Engagement Programme Co-ordinator), Tina Luo (Origami and Papercraft Artist)

Creative Producer: Ellen Dowell