The aim of this research is to rethink the wall, and the building envelope more broadly, by developing a radically simple new form of plant-based construction. This is in response to the authors’ observations that contemporary forms of construction tend to meet current performance requirements through an aggregate approach, with a multiplicity of divergent components and layers. This adds complexity at every stage of a building’s lifecycle, and often ends in destructive demolition and the downgrading of resources because the building is too costly to disassemble. The intention here is to develop a construction system with outstanding whole-life environmental sustainability performance, using plant-based materials, in a system that is easy to assemble, low energy to inhabit and easy to disassemble at the end of a building’s life.
Cork House develops a new, radically simple form of solid, dry-jointed cork and timber construction. The proposed cork building system has outstanding whole-life performance and creates a model for exceptionally low-carbon construction. Cork blocks manufactured from forestry waste interlock for easy assembly to create structures that are low energy to inhabit and easy to disassemble for reuse. An architectural language of cork stereotomy has been developed that reimagines historic dry-stone construction using a palette of different materials.
The 10,000-word article ‘Cork Construction Kit’ by Oliver Wilton and Matthew Barnett Howland was the winner of the 2019 RIBA President’s Award for Design and Technical Research.