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Cork House: An Awarded Cork house

6/1/2020

Finalist of the prestigious Stirling Prize and winner of RIBA’s 2019 Stephen Lawrence Prize, the Cork House project was built with expanded agglomerated cork supplied by Amorim Isolamentos.

Simplicity and sustainability were the concepts that inspired the mentors of this idea: Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, of the Bartlett School of Architecture. Built in Berkshire, UK, Cork House aims to provide an innovative solution to the inherent complexities associated to building modern homes. It was built almost entirely from a single natural, sustainable and renewable material: cork.

The design is truly ground-breaking, with monolithic walls and ceilings supported by corbels, made of solid, sturdy cork. Designed as a kit, its components are prefabricated off-site and assembled by hand, without mortar or glue. The 1268 expanded cork agglomerate blocks can therefore be reused, recycled or returned to the biosphere at the end of the building's life.

Once completed, Cork House is carbon-negative, which, in addition to its low impact construction method, surely must have caught the attention of the jury of the Stephen Lawrence Prize, an award organised by RIBA (Royal College of British Architects) that distinguishes emerging and experimental architecture, with projects costing less than £ 1 million. “Cork House is a unique combination of ancient building methods and state-of-the-art technical research to produce a highly innovative, low carbon solution with a wide range of applications, from large scale housing to emergency shelters,” stated Marco Goldschmied. , founder of Stephen Lawrence Prize.

Cork House, which was also one of the 9 finalists of the RIBA Stirling Prize, Britain's foremost architectural award, uses an updated version of an innovative building system jointly developed, designed and tested by MPH Architects, The Bartlett School of Architecture. UCL, University of Bath, Corticeira Amorim and Ty-Mawr, with Arup and BR as subcontractors.

The research was partially funded by Innovate UK and EPSRC under the 2015 Building Whole Life Performance competition. The R&D process included sophisticated laboratory testing to assess structural performance and rain and fire penetration, with two prototypes designed to test the actual performance of the building system.