Modern UK house of cork LEGOs built by hand, no glue needed

Using 1268 cork blocks, built a home almost entirely by hand that uses no glues or mortars and can be disassembled at the end of its life.

Designed by Barnett Howland, and , can be assembled like a “giant, organic LEGO system” using blocks built from cork waste from the bottling industry. With numbered blocks and detailed plans, one person can lift the blocks and place them one on top of another. “From the slab up it’s simpler to assemble than some LEGO construction kits that my son was building when he was about 10”, explains Wilton.

The expanded cork blocks are structural- working in compression they take all the downward load-, but there is a bit of wood in the structure: wooden beams for lateral support on windy days and weatherboarding to protect the roof from rains.

Cork dates back thousands of years in construction- Romans used it for roof sheets-, but the technology for shaping the cork blocks for this is very modern. Working with the robotics lab at The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, the architects developed a robotic milling method for cutting highly specific shapes to deal with water and airtightness issues. The resulting blocks fit together with a snug “interference fit” of the tongue and groove.

The home is completely recyclable and thanks to the mortar-and-glue-free bonds, it can be disassembled quite easily and even composted (though the natural resin holding the blocks together makes this a long process). The team tested out the assembly and disassembly on a smaller structure “Cork Cabin.

https://www.matthewbarnetthowland.com/cork-house

29 Comments

    • Why bother? Maybe inside you could hang curtains in place of wallpaper but that’s entirely aesthetic and not structurally required.

    • @AnantaSesaDas Well, I like wood, so I would get a nice wood cladding on the inside. Maybe also for the outside, and with that cork core it would be very nice indeed. All natural. Healthy and beautiful home.

    • Such as when people decide they want a bigger house on the lot. Or new owners don’t like the style and want to build a different house there for the prefered community. The blocks become a mobile home to sell for funds then.

  1. Since the blocks are just stacked without any fasteners wouldn’t the structure just get torn to pieces by the high winds of a hurricane or typhoon?

    • Oh any flood that covers the top might just float away the blocks layer by layer. But 2 metal wires criss crossed over the top could hold it down.

  2. totally love the idea. a bit too dark inside for me. cork is a great material but is there enough production of it worldwide to really be adopted for mass housing.

  3. There isnt much cork left , thats why we started to use other material for wine bottles etc etc. But a great idea and if there was a lot, a good way replacing all those plasticks.

    • This particular example is well sheltered so it would probably last long enough. Where I live, it would be gone with the first winter.

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