How can we transport ourselves to natural environments when we are in completely urban situations? The materiality of our surroundings is an important factor that determines the atmosphere we inhabit. In many cases, the use of natural materials in interior architecture can help evoke nature in our daily spaces. In this article, we will specifically analyze the effect that cork has as a special resource in the design of interior spaces. Cork is the bark of a tree species called cork oak. When extracted from the tree, it is transformed into a useful raw product and can be applied to a variety of different uses.
Cork: The Latest Architecture and News
Greatly driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, interior design trends that prioritize comfort and well-being have become more prominent than ever in recent years. With former confinement restrictions and the rise of hybrid work, the amount of time spent indoors to carry out daily functions has risen drastically, forcing many to adapt their living spaces accordingly. As a result, demand has focused on residential interiors that foster calmness, peace and warmth, as well as on products and design elements that successfully meet these new needs. But how to achieve this? While there are many ways to promote comfort inside the home, one method has been indisputably proven to be the most successful: bringing nature in.
In architecture we are so caught up in creating something new, we often forget about what happens at the end of a building’s life cycle—the unfortunate, inevitable demolition. We may want our buildings to be timeless and live on forever, but the harsh reality is that they do not, so where is all the waste expected to go?
As with most non-recyclable waste, it ends up in the landfill and, as the land required for landfill becomes an increasingly scarce resource, we must find an alternative solution. Each year in the UK alone, 70–105 million tonnes of waste is created from demolishing buildings, and only 20% of that is biodegradable according to a study by Cardiff University. With clever design and a better awareness of the biodegradable materials available in construction, it’s up to us as architects to make the right decisions for the entirety of a building’s lifetime.
Sustainability. A word that, for many of us, has been driven into our minds from the very start of our careers as architects. We have a responsibility to the planet and future generations to design buildings that are socially conscious—from solar panels to triple-glazed windows, we have tried it all.
Ultimately, whether our designs are sustainable comes down to the early decisions we make for the building, with our choice of materials having a huge effect on the overall carbon footprint. With new technologies come new ways of incorporating abundantly found materials into the skin of the building that could reduce the building's embodied energy and enhance the structure's properties.
In this article, we have compiled a list of 8 familiar materials that you wouldn't initially associate with sustainability but which you might consider for your next design.
Unbeknown to many, cork is something of a dark horse when it comes to the environment—a model of a sustainable industry and building material. By its very nature, cork is both recyclable and renewable, as it is the only tree that regenerates its bark, while harvesting that bark causes the tree no harm.
Cork has been sneaking its way into our buildings for many years now; due to its hard-wearing properties it can be found, for example, in the checkerboard flooring of the Library of Congress. Even NASA has been wise to cork's light weight and insulation capacity, using it as an insulator for their space shuttles.
Entries are now open for the Morrison's Island International Design Competition, Cork, Ireland
Registered architects, landscape architects and engineers are invited to take part in a design competition to propose innovative and considered solutions for the renewal of Cork city’s quayside landscape. Participants are encouraged to collaborate with other professional disciplines, historians, craftspeople and artists. The competition aims to explore the authentic spatial and material quality of the city that has been lost in recent times and engage with the remaining historic fabric.
“The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise / Were all at prayers inside the oratory / A ship appeared above them in the air. / The anchor dragged along behind so deep / It hooked itself into the altar rails.”
These words by Irish poet Seamus Heaney have had a profound impact on the work of architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, who cited the poem as one of their inspirations for the Glucksman Gallery – an exhibition space commissioned by the University of Cork in the early millennium. Named for its patron Lewis Glucksman (a Wall Street trader and philanthropist), the Glucksman Gallery was completed in 2005 and nominated for the Stirling Prize that same year. Thanks to its outstanding site-specific design, the building has since become one of the most celebrated works of contemporary Irish architecture.
University College Cork has selected O'Donnell + Tuomey to design the university's new student hub, which will house learning, student support and administration spaces in a new building adjacent to the campus' Victorian Windle Medical Building, to the West of the main quadrangle. Selected for their ability to work within and around the historic buildings, the project will also see O'Donnell + Tuomey restore the medical building.