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Exposed Cork & Your Interiors

Written by Catalina Valenzuela Cortés | Translated by José Tomás Franco for Archdaily

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.

A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Weiqi Jin
A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Weiqi Jin

Nía School / Sulkin Askenazi

The Nía school, located in Mexico City, is an innovative school that promotes an interactive learning environment through flexible and open interior spaces, cozy lighting systems, creative furniture, and through the use of materials extracted from nature such as cork and oak wood. Cork plays a fundamental role: being a soft material to the touch, it is ideal for creating a safe environment for children. Its optimal texture allows children to play quietly, whether they are climbing, jumping, or exploring. In addition, cork creates a warm and attractive atmosphere thanks to its orange and yellowish tones that reflect joy and positive energy.

Nía School / Sulkin Askenazi. Image © Aldo C. Gracia
Nía School / Sulkin Askenazi. Image © Aldo C. Gracia
Nía School / Sulkin Askenazi. Image © Aldo C. Gracia
Nía School / Sulkin Askenazi. Image © Aldo C. Gracia

ConsenSys Offices / Neiheiser Argyros

Located in London, this project consists of a five-story office building that offers a variety of spaces adaptive to the different working modalities of users. The project was born from the idea that we all work in different ways: there are spaces that are comfortable and productive for some, but quite the opposite for others. Consolidating itself as a work center for different personalities, the ConsenSys building uses cork to delimit the area of a library with dark wood furniture, providing an atmosphere of contemplation and concentration. 

ConsenSys Offices / Neiheiser Argyros. Image © Simone Bossi
ConsenSys Offices / Neiheiser Argyros. Image © Simone Bossi

Morris Law / Bornstein Lyckefors arkitekter

Morris Law, a commercial law firm, is another example of cork use in interior architecture. For a project that is based on the concepts of efficiency, transparency, excellence, and mindfulness, warm-colored materials such as cork are ideal for generating warm, welcoming, and distinctive workspaces. 

Morris Law / Bornstein Lyckefors arkitekter. Image © Kalle Sanner
Morris Law / Bornstein Lyckefors arkitekter. Image © Kalle Sanner

Art Barn / Thomas Randall – Page

Observing this intimate space, inserted within an attractive shed designed by Thomas Randall-Page in England, one realizes the high aesthetic value that the use of cork can provide. Its simplicity renders it an elegant material that finds harmony in combination with stone, wood, and other white and earth tones.

Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page. Image © Jim Stephenson
Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page. Image © Jim Stephenson
Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page. Image © Jim Stephenson
Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page. Image © Jim Stephenson
Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page. Image © Jim Stephenson
Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page. Image © Jim Stephenson

A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio

The New Everbright Center convened five design teams to stage the four-room ArtPark9 hotel in Beijing. The proposals had to explore possible future lifestyles in high-rise buildings, creating harmonic atmospheres in dense urban contexts.

One of the rooms was designed by ARCHSTUDIO under the name “hillside dwelling,” in which the architects visualized the evolution of human habitation. The project returns to human origins by creating an atmosphere that stimulates the interaction between people and natural spaces. A hill-shaped structure was created that allowed different types of three-dimensional relationships. The “hillside,” covered with cork boards, managed to evoke nature thanks to its soft texture, organic shape, and earthy color. The richness of the project lies in its ability to recreate a natural environment in a creative and aesthetic way, in an interior space otherwise conditioned by modern urban life.

A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Weiqi Jin
A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Weiqi Jin
A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Weiqi Jin
A Spatial Quartet on Future Dwellings / ARCHSTUDIO + DESIGN APARTMENT + SODA Architects + B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Weiqi Jin

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