Warm to the feel, insulating and renewable, cork is truly an amazing material. We've seen beautiful structures made completely out of cork previously, and now a trio Portuguese designers are experimenting with cork as a material for parametric design. Rising up from the ground like a wave of cork, the Vaulted Cork Pavilion by Pedro de Azambuja Varela, Maria João de Oliveira and Emmanuel Novo was recently showcased at Porto's biennial Concreta fair.
Designed with parametric algorithms and cut using a CNC machine, the pavilion features cork as a monolithic building component, both as ground surface and as shelter, unified as one undulating form. It's quite a bit of cork, but Portugal is one of the world's leading producers of cork; only the bark is removed every few years, and the tree is left to grow, up to 200 years.
The structure's cocoon-like nature and materials provided an acoustic refuge from the buzz and hubbub of the fair, while offering seating on the outside for tired fair-goers. The creators explain that the intention of the project was to explore the polyvalent structural and material possibilities of cork:
These concepts are: the possibility to span vaults with cork alone, a compound translucent cork material, and a system for radiation and acoustic optimization. All these concepts ought to be shown within the pavillion in a symbiotic relation formalized by the continuous and metamorphic shape.
Patches of living grass on the cork ground demonstrate the possibility of using cork in living roofs, which the designers say "creates a symbiosis of living plants and cork bark."
Created as part of a research project for ISCTE-IULisboa and FAUPorto, and sponsored by Amorim Isolamentos Lda., this project shows that cork could gain wider traction in the future as an insulation and building material. More over at Concreta.