Garden Shed Office Clad in Cork

Working from home is becoming more and more the norm around the world, but when you actually do so from your house, it can quickly lead to the blurring of the lines between work and leisure time. Solutions such as working at a café or a co-working space are great, but so is building a dedicated shed in the garden, if you have one. The UK design firm Surman Weston came up with a simple, yet modern shed for this very purpose. It is clad in cork, and is used by a seamstress and her musician boyfriend.

The shed, which measures 139 sq ft, (12.9 sq m) is placed next to a brick wall, which surrounds it on three sides. It features a timber frame and cork cladding, which offers excellent sound and thermal insulation. The structure blends almost seamlessly into its surroundings thanks to its natural cork cladding, and the green roof, which was planted with wild flowers.


The shed features a large skylight that lets in plenty of natural sunlight, which is a necessity for working, especially for a seamstress, but also makes the interior appear much more cozy and spacious. The interior walls are clad in plywood, which was also used to construct the desks and shelving inside it. In order to make the most of the available space, the work desks were built into the wall. A window placed between the two workstations keeps them separated.

This project is a great example of using cork as both cladding and insulation. The idea can easily be expanded to a tiny home. And the other eco-friendly strategies employed in this design are also quite commendable. All in all, I would love to have a garden office like this. It’s uncluttered, and lets you focus on your work without distractions.

Tiny House Made of Cork

Ecobubo, a Portuguese startup, has recently completed a tiny dwelling of the same name that’s made of cork. The primary function of this tiny house is to serve as a nature escape for two, since the home is located in the woods and lacks the space and amenities, which would make it suitable as a full-time home.

The Ecobubo measures a very modest 96 sq ft (9 sq m) and has been in development since 2015. This recently completed version is the new and improved prototype, and takes only about 2 weeks to construct. It is raised off the ground on stilts and features a deck that does a lot to extend the livable space. The façade is made of cork panels, which slot together to build the home and can be freely customized with each model of the home. The structure of the home and its interior is made of wood.

The interior features a tiny kitchen, and a sitting area that’s fitted with a sofa. The latter pulls out into a bed for two. The home also features a bathroom that is equipped with a composting toilet and a shower. The other furnishings include cupboards, a table, and stools with storage integrated into them.

Cork was used primarily because it is a very abundant material in Portugal, but also because it is impermeable, elastic, buoyant, and fire retardant. The aesthetics of it also played a role, while cork has good insulation qualities and is produced sustainably.

The home can get its power from the grid, but it is also possible to take it off the grid by utilizing solar or wind power. Since cork is such a good insulator, air-conditioning is not needed in the summer months, nor is heating in the winter. Though they did install a small heater just in case of extremely low temperatures.

The primary function of this home right now is to serve as a camping alternative, otherwise known as glamping. But the company does have plans to develop a more permanent type of dwelling too. It would make a great guesthouse, cabin or even a full-time home with some adjustments.

The home is selling for between $11,700 – $17,550 at the moment, which does not include taxes and transportation.

Beach House Clad in Cork

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Cork is an often overlooked insulating material, even though it is a great choice for the job, since it’s completely renewable. In the renovation of this 1920s beach house in Essex, UK they used it for cladding and it’s a great choice. The beach house itself is a great example of modern architecture and renovation done right. The renovation was completed by UK-based architect Lisa Shell.

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The home was built using cross-laminated timber (CLT) and raised on stilts, since this area is quite prone to flooding, due to it being located on a flat and watery salt marsh landscape. The cladding is 180mm thick expanded cork agglomerate overcoat, which was made from the by-products of wine cork production in Portugal, so it is also recycled. The cork panels used were manufactured sustainably, since they are made using only heat and compression, which creates a chemical bond between the cork particles naturally. They also did not coat the panels with polyurethane, which is the reason why they are a light grey color having been allowed to weather naturally over time.

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They used reclaimed wood to renovate the interior, which creates a very cozy feel, perfect for weathering out those summer storms. The windows they installed are large and offer great views, while effectively blurring the barrier between the indoors and the outdoors. An added benefit of using cork is also the fact that it attracted wildlife, namely sparrows which have already begun nesting here. It is nice to see architecture work this well in alliance with nature and more designers should take this into consideration when planning their projects.

The overall design of this beach house, and the use of so many renewable resources in the renovation make this a great example of what modern architecture can achieve when done right. It’s also great that the home was designed in a way that allows it to blend into the surrounding area like it was always a part of it.

PostGreen Homes Are Using Cork as Cladding and Insulation

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PostGreen Homes are using cork as cladding in their newest project in Fishtown, Philadelphia. They are working in collaboration with Orange Concept on this project, and the finished home will be simple and minimalistic, which will make it fit right in with the other buildings in the area.

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The builders decided to use cork for cladding even though the material costs about three times more than, for example, expanded polystyrene. But the upside is that, when using cork as cladding, there is no need for additional exterior cladding to be added, since the cork cladding is also the insulation layer. This works to bring down the building cost. The cork for this project was supplied by Thermacork, a company that offers a variety of choices of façade cork. Cork cladding is available in panels measuring one meter by half a meter (39″ x 19-5/8″) and can be up to six inches thick. The insulation value is about R-3.6 per inch, and it is one of the most eco-friendly insulation materials currently available. Cork is also naturally fire resistant, and hydrophobic.

Cork is a very renewable material, and it is also sustainably harvested every 8 years or so. Cork forests in Portugal and the rest of Europe also have the ability to reverse environmental damage. They protect soil from desertification by protecting against wind erosion and also act as a natural fire barrier in case of forest fires. These forests are also able to act as “carbon sinks.” The cork forests of Portugal are able to trap 4.8 million tons of CO2 emissions a year, which is about 5% of the country’s emissions. However, since the decline of cork use, these forests are not being cared for properly anymore. So, a revival of cork use for cladding and insulation would certainly have far reaching benefits.

Cork cladding has been a popular choice in Europe for a while now, but the PostGreen home in Philadelphia is the first US home to be built using it.

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Homes Existing as One With Nature
Tiny House That Was Grown and Not Built