Cork has so many natural properties that make it great as a building material. It’s insulative, durable, flexible and water-resistant – not to mention sustainable and eco-friendly.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see more designers getting creative with cork. Read on as we look at four houses that use cork as a stylish and sustainable focal point.
The Cork Studio – London
Starting right here in the UK, the Cork Studio is a small but significant project by London-based Studio Bark. Their simple prototype challenges our dependence on single-use components by using a single eco-friendly material to form an entire building’s envelope.
After testing various materials for their water-resistance, fire-resistance and durability, Studio Bark chose cork. To boost their eco-friendly credentials further, the cork was sourced from a wine cork manufacturer.
Discarded granules were heated, releasing a natural binding resin so they could be compacted into solid blocks. They were then cut into the right sizes and used for the floor, walls and roof. High-density slabs were used for the walls to provide better wind resistance, in contrast to the floor’s low-density slabs – which grant better thermal insulation.
Cork Screw – Berlin
With its bold, geometrical aesthetic, the Cork Screw in Berlin is entirely cladded in cork panels. The project was undertaken by Rundzwei Architekten, who were originally searching for a way to improve the building’s acoustic performance.
They came across cork as a potential solution, leading them to discover the various other benefits – high insulation values, sustainability and a suitability for cladding (including fire resistance). As above, they heated waste cork granules from a wine bottling company to make lightweight slabs.
The House of Wood, Straw and Cork – Italy
Cork cladding is also used on the House of Wood, Straw and Cork near Milan. Situated in the rural surroundings of Magnago (near Milan), the owners wanted their home to be as natural and sustainable as possible.
The finished building certainly fits that brief with a prefabricated timber structure and straw insulation. That’s complemented by cork cladding on the external walls to add insulation along with a barn-like aesthetic from the outside.
Redshank – Essex
A particularly interesting use of cork comes from a seaside studio, Redshank, which was bought by artist Marcus Taylor. In search of a peaceful place to concentrate on work, he purchased a timber-framed house within the Colne Point Nature Reserve.
The unique tidal marsh location meant that the building firstly had to be raised well above the rising tide to avoid inundation. That still left it susceptible to salty winds that are prevalent on the coast.
Architect Lisa Shell used cork panels on every exterior surface – including the roof and underside – to protect the building from the salt spray. The natural “mottled” texture of the material also echoes the plumage of the redshank bird, from which the building takes its name.
Applying cork to UK homes
These four buildings are shining examples of how cork can combine unique design and architectural interest with functionality and high performance. However, the material can also be used to improve the appearance and efficiency of homes across the UK.
Our innovative SprayCork coating can be applied to interiors, external walls and even conservatory roofs to improve heat retention, sound insulation and water resistance. For more information or a free quote, simply contact us online.