Cork House project wins 2019 Stephen Lawrence Prize

Sarah Wright - Communications Coordinator Sarah Wright UKIMEA Press Office,London
14 October 2019

Cork House, the world’s first building made entirely out of cork, has been awarded the 2019 Stephen Lawrence Prize. The prestigious architecture award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) celebrates experimental architectural talent and projects with a construction budget of less than £1 million.

Arup was responsible for choosing a suitable mixture of cork granules, including interpreting material testing at the University of Bath, working closely with designers, Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton.

Adopting a first of its kind whole-life approach to sustainability, the building was ‘designed for disassembly’ and was constructed by hand.

Each of the five repeated pyramids forms a distinct space: sleeping, living, cooking, washing and outdoor living.

Key highlights

  • The building was designed to achieve an exceptionally low whole life carbon [619kgCO2e/m2] using components that can all be reused or recycled.

  • The expanded cork blocks have been made using waste from the cork stopper industry.

  • The project was praised by the judges for its “unique fusion of ancient construction methods” and “cutting-edge technical research”.

  • Arup provided the full structural and fire engineering design for the house.

Our vision for Cork House was all about innovation and pushing the boundaries. We took ideas of material reuse to the extreme to inspire other designers to think outside of the box in their approach to sustainable construction. ”

Andrew Lawrence Andrew Lawrence Global Timber Specialist
cork house project cork house project
The form of the building emulates traditional forms of construction, with corbelled roofs working in compression to span onto solid cork walls.

The purpose of Cork House was more than achieving metrics and credentials. It is a perfect example of how structural testing and experimentation with new materials can help inform the environmental debate. It is not trying to provide the definitive solution for every project, rather, it serves to inspire the innovators of our industry at a time when society is demanding that we all play our part in finding answers to climate change. ” Gavin Maloney Gavin Maloney Senior Engineer, Advanced Digital Engineering