The Cork House



The Cork House was designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton. 

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.

Project Description

On a small island in the Thames, five silver-grey pyramids emerge from the surrounding plants, trees and streams, forming a linear structural rhythm that resonates with the Gothic silhouette of Eton College Chapel in the distance. But the Cork House is more than a building that feels deeply embedded in its site - it is a brand new and radically simple form of plant-based construction. Monolithic walls and corbelled roofs are made almost entirely from solid load-bearing cork – a bio-renewable material that is sourced from a biodiverse landscape. This highly innovative self-build construction kit is designed for disassembly, is carbon-negative at completion and has exceptionally low whole life carbon. Conceived as a kit-of-parts, expanded cork blocks and engineered timber components are prefabricated off-site and assembled by hand on-site without mortar or glue. 



RIBA National Award 2019

RIBA South Sustainability Award 2019

RIBA South Award 2019

RIBA ‘House of the Year’ 2019 Longlist

Imagine being inside a space protected by walls that are warm and gentle to the touch. Walls that are solid from inside to outside and even smell good. Walls built by you from a single natural material. A material that grows on trees and is harvested by hand. Harvested every nine years leaving the tree standing and the forest undisturbed. A forest that supports a wide range of plants and animals, including the endangered Iberian lynx.

You are in the Cork House.