▼视频，video © Matthew Barnett Howland
On a small island in the Thames, five silver-grey pyramids emerge from the surrounding trees and undergrowth, forming a linear structural rhythm that resonates with the Gothic silhouette of Eton College Chapel in the distance. At close quarters, standing in the outdoor anteroom underneath the first pyramid, the building starts to be understood as a unique construction – the walls are simply large interlocking blocks of solid cork, in which structure, insulation, external surface and internal finish are all one and the same thing.
▼项目概览，general view © David Grandorge
It is looking upwards into the corbelled cork roof above that the total integration of material, form and construction is most legible. The resultant architectural language of pure compression is new and yet familiar – a progressive reimagining of the simple construction principles of ancient stone structures, such as Celtic beehive houses or even Mayan temples. The monolithic use of cork in place of stone adds warmth to the formal simplicity and geometric clarity.
▼软木住宅外观，Cork house exterior view © Ricky Jones
▼屋顶视角，rooftop view © Ricky Jones
▼裸露的实心软木，the exposed solid cork blocks © Alex de Rijke
Internally, the exposed solid cork blocks create an evocative sensory environment – walls are gentle to the touch and even smell good, the acoustic is soft and calm, and shadows are praised as much as the quality of light. The primary use of cork is complemented by the consistent use of timber for almost everything else: black-stained Accoya for structural beams, lintels, windows and doors; bespoke furniture in cross-laminated spruce; handmade stools from English pippy oak; and floorboards in cross-sawn solid oak that are fixed with brass screws to allow for ease of disassembly. Against the atmospheric setting created by the combination of expanded cork and timber, solid brass fittings and work surfaces create moments of richness, and copper sprinkler pipes gleam in the shade of the roof corbels.
▼室内空间，interior view © Magnus Dennis
▼起居室，living room © Magnus Dennis
▼厨房，kitchen © Magnus Dennis
▼黄铜构件与台面创造出丰富的体验，solid brass fittings and work surfaces create moments of richness © Magnus Dennis
▼卧室，bedroom © Magnus Dennis
▼室内细节，interior details © Magnus Dennis
DESIGN RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
▼设计概念，concept © Matthew Barnett Howland
With a focus on what is solid, simple and sustainable, the project is an inventive response to the complexities and conventions of modern house construction. Rather than the typical complex, layered building envelope incorporating an array of building materials, products and specialist sub-systems, the Cork House is an attempt to make solid walls and roof from a single bio-renewable material. Conceived as a kit-of-parts, blocks of expanded cork and engineered timber components are prefabricated off-site and assembled by hand on-site without mortar or glue – like a giant organic LEGO® system.
▼软木住宅试图通过单一的生物可再生材料来构筑坚固的墙壁和屋顶 © Magnus Dennis
the Cork House is an attempt to make solid walls and roof from a single bio-renewable material
▼卧室，bedroom © Magnus Dennis
该住宅使用的最新版本的自建造系统由MPH建筑事务所、UCL巴特莱特学院、巴斯大学、Amorim UK和Ty-Mawr共同开发，项目分包商包括Arup和BRE等。本项研究由 Innovate UK和EPSRC在2015年以“建筑全寿命性能”竞赛的名义提供部分资金支持。研发过程涵盖对结构性能、雨水渗透与火灾的深度测试，并借助两个原型结构来建立建筑系统的实际性能。
▼可拆卸的设计，design for disassembly © Matthew Barnett Howland
The house uses an evolved version of a self-build construction system developed by MPH Architects, The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, University of Bath, Amorim UK and Ty-Mawr, with subcontractors including Arup and BRE. The research was part-funded by Innovate UK and EPSRC under the 2015 Building Whole Life Performance funding competition. The R&D process included in-depth laboratory tests for structural performance, rain penetration and fire, with two prototype structures used to establish the real-life performance of the construction system.
▼鸟瞰，aerial view © Phil Broom
▼屋顶接合处细节，roof joint detailed view © David Grandorge; Alex de Rijke
▼天窗，skylights © Phil Broom
WHOLE LIFE SUSTAINABILITY
The Cork House embodies a strong whole life approach to sustainability, from resource through to end-of-life. Expanded cork is a pure bio-material made with waste from cork forestry. The bark of the cork oak is harvested by hand every nine years without harming the tree or disturbing the forest. This gentle agro-industry sustains the Mediterranean cork oak landscapes, providing a rich biodiverse habitat that is widely recognised.
▼材料细节，material © Matthew Barnett Howland
▼软木预装配，assembly © Matthew Barnett Howland
This compelling ecological origin of expanded cork is mirrored at the opposite end of the building’s lifecycle. The construction system is dry-jointed and designed for disassembly, so that all 1,268 blocks of cork can be reclaimed at end-of-building-life for re-use, recycling, or returning to the biosphere.
▼软木住宅生命周期，cork house lifecycle © Matthew Barnett Howland
Alongside this simple and sustainable lifecycle narrative, the Cork House exhibits outstanding performance in relation to carbon emissions. A Whole Life Carbon Assessment by Sturgis Carbon Profiling showed that the Cork House is embodied carbon negative at completion, and has the lowest whole life carbon of any building they have assessed.
▼住宅外观，exterior view © Magnus Dennis
▼户外景观，outdoor landscape details © Magnus Dennis; David Grandorge
“If Cork House were a book, it would be a manifesto or polemical tract that aimed to radically reframe the processes of architecture and construction through the prism of whole life sustainability, from design to demolition.” Catherine Slessor, The Observor
▼场地鸟瞰，aerial view ©
▼模型，model ©David Grandorge
▼场地平面图，site plan © Matthew Barnett Howland
▼平面图，plan © Matthew Barnett Howland
▼立面图，elevation © Matthew Barnett Howland
▼软木单元切割示意，cutter – block design © Matthew Barnett Howland
▼轴测分解图，axon exploded © Matthew Barnett Howland
▼结构细部，construction details © Matthew Barnett Howland
Cork House was designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne (CSK Architects) and Oliver Wilton (The Bartlett School for Architecture UCL)
Photography by Alex de Rijke, David Grandorge, Magnus Dennis and Ricky Jones