As a material, cork is naturally sound and thermally insulating thanks to the honeycomb structure of its cells. It is also beautiful, lightweight, warm to the touch, hypoallergenic, fire and insect-resistant and renewable every 8-10 years. It therefore comes as no surprise that it is an ideal material for the built environment.
Despite this however, cork remains somewhat still an unconventional building material, particularly in the United States. Seattle’s Dwell Development is looking to change this with designs such as their recent Cork Haus.
The low maintenance 3-inch thick cork panels used in this new house never have to be painted, stained or treated and provide additional insulation. It is also climate appropriate. Cork is also one of the only materials on earth that can be submerged in liquid for centuries without rotting, making it virtually immune to the Pacific Northwest’s damp climate.
In addition to the use of cork, environmentally conscious decisions were made throughout the material selection process, from the 85% recycled countertops from local supplier, NovuStone, to the 70% recycled porcelain tile in the bathrooms and sustainably harvested fir floors throughout the home. With the incorporation of recycled materials and sustainable technology, this net-zero speculative home offers a model for future home development.
Furthermore, the house is constructed in accordance with vigorous Passive House standards and therefore achieves net-zero energy usage. An increasingly popular building standard, Passive House standards architecturally utilize passive solar gain to heat the home and create an airtight envelope to prevent heat from escaping through cracks and leaks in the structure. “I have never been crazy about the word Passive for this building standard,” says owner Anthony Maschmedt. “It is a very intentional design that allows the home to capture solar gain.” The Prosoco Cat-5 air and water resistant barrier combined with the high-performance European windows and doors create an airtight seal around the home. The heat recovery ventilation system exhausts stale air from inside the home while providing constant fresh air, ensuring a healthy and comfortable environment.
Inspired by cork? You can explore more about this material and how it is used in the built environment in our material’s library. Examples include cork fabric, cork flooring, cork leather and cork paneling.