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Publication Detail
Cork Construction Kit
Abstract
This article reports on the research and development of a radically simple new form of solid, dry-jointed construction made of expanded cork and engineered timber. It has outstanding whole life performance, and the potential to help sustain biodiverse landscapes, and create buildings with exceptionally low whole life carbon emissions. Building blocks made of cork forestry waste interlock for quick and easy assembly, creating buildings that are low-energy to inhabit and simple to disassemble at the end of the building’s life for reuse. The project investigates an architectural language of cork stereotomy as a progressive reimagining of historic dry-stone construction. The research is architect-led and multidisciplinary, undertaken in three steps from 2014 to 2019. Step one was curiosity-driven research, hypothesising and making the Cork Casket. Step two involved detailed design hypotheses, extensive prototyping, and lab testing addressing structure, fire and weathertightness. The Cork Cabin was created and monitored, and the system design established. Step three created Cork House. As the first building of its type, it is permanent, replicable, and designed to fully meet local building codes. Its corbelled profile knits into its site, with sheltering interiors offering a rich sensory living environment. The research confirms the potential for such simple new forms of off-site plant-based construction to help address construction industry challenges relating to whole life environmental sustainability performance, complexity, quality, and productivity.
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The Bartlett School of Architecture
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The Bartlett School of Architecture
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