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Cork Study

Status: Completed 2015
Client: Private
Location: London
Lead Contractors: Surman Weston Construction Ltd
Structural Engineers: Structure Workshop
Carpentry: Tom Kelly & Gino Saccone
Joinery: Tim Gaudin
Photography: Wai Ming Ng
Team: Tom Surman, Percy Weston

We were commissioned by a musician and seamstress couple to design a shared workspace for their bijou north London garden.

The extremely tight site and the greenery of neighbouring gardens were significant design drivers for the scheme. Externally, the study is wrapped with an innovative cork cladding that forms the weatherproofing layer and acts as thermal and acoustic insulators. The natural earthy quality of the thick cork combined with wild flower roof also helps nestle the building into its organic green surroundings.

Internally, the simple volume is lined with birch plywood. To help create the feeling of space with the limited floor area, the furniture – also in birch plywood – is cantilevered off the walls. Bathed in natural light via a generous skylight, the couple’s shared desk unit is divided by a central slot window.

The interior space is separated from the small garden area by a large glazed oak framed sliding pocket door, which when desired can be fully slid open out of view, blurring the threshold between the interior and exterior.

As a whole, the scheme is a very sustainable project. Timber internal linings, an all timber structural frame and the wild-flower sedum roof are used in conjunction with the fantastically sustainable cork cladding. Formed from the re-harvestable bark of cork-oak trees, the innovative expanded cork blocks are completely additive free and significantly carbon negative.

Cork Study was shortlisted for a RIBA London Award 2017.

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