Teen stacks 143,000 playing cards to create world’s largest card structure

By Sanj Atwal
Arnav standing inside card structure

Using around 143,000 playing cards – and zero tape or glue – 15-year-old student Arnav Daga (India) has officially created the world’s largest playing card structure.

Measuring 12.21 m (40 ft) in length, 3.47 m (11 ft 4 in) in height, and 5.08 m (16 ft 8 in) in width, it took 41 days to complete.

The structure features four iconic buildings from Arnav’s home city of Kolkata: the Writers’ Building, the Shaheed Minar, Salt Lake Stadium, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The previous record was held by Bryan Berg (USA), whose replica of three Macao hotels measured 10.39 m (34 ft 1 in) long, 2.88 m (9 ft 5 in) tall, and 3.54 m (11 ft 7 in) wide.

Before commencing construction, Arnav visited all four sites to closely study their architecture and work out their dimensions.

A task he found more challenging was finding a suitable site for his own card-chitecture. Requiring a tall, airtight space with a flat floor, he viewed “close to 30” places before settling on one.

Arnav drew a basic outline of each building on the floor to ensure that they were accurately aligned before he started stacking. His technique involves using “grids” (four horizontal cards stood at right angles) and “vertical cells” (four vertical cards inclined towards each other at right angles).

Despite painstakingly planning the build, Arnav said he had to “improvise a lot” when issues arose, such as when St. Paul’s Cathedral partially collapsed, or when the entire Shaheed Minar fell down.

Arnav building dome

“It was frustrating that so many hours and days of work got wiped out and I had to do it all over again, but for me there was no turning back,” Arnav recalled.

“At times you have to decide on the spot if an alteration or change of approach is required. Making such a huge project was very new to me.”

Arnav struggled to balance his schoolwork and record attempt throughout the six weeks, but he was committed to completing his card construction. “It was very tough to do both, but I was determined to overcome all difficulties,” he said.

The moment I wore my headphones and started working on the structure I was in a different world. - Arnav

Arnav standing behind card stadium

Arnav has been card stacking since he was eight years old. He began to take it more seriously during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, as he found himself with a lot of free time to practise his passion.

Due to having limited space in his room, he began by creating smaller structures, some of which can be seen on his YouTube channel, arnavinnovates.

The scope of his work gradually increased in size, going from knee-high structures to a floor-to-ceiling replica of the Empire State Building.

“Three years of hard work and practise in making smaller structures improved my skill and gave me the confidence for attempting a world record,” Arnav said.

“It is definitely overwhelming and feels like I am living my dream which I saw back in 2020.

“For me the journey has just begun.”

Arnav standing behind card structure

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