Cork is an often overlooked insulating material, even though it is a great choice for the job, since it’s completely renewable. In the renovation of this 1920s beach house in Essex, UK they used it for cladding and it’s a great choice. The beach house itself is a great example of modern architecture and renovation done right. The renovation was completed by UK-based architect Lisa Shell.


The home was built using cross-laminated timber (CLT) and raised on stilts, since this area is quite prone to flooding, due to it being located on a flat and watery salt marsh landscape. The cladding is 180mm thick expanded cork agglomerate overcoat, which was made from the by-products of wine cork production in Portugal, so it is also recycled. The cork panels used were manufactured sustainably, since they are made using only heat and compression, which creates a chemical bond between the cork particles naturally. They also did not coat the panels with polyurethane, which is the reason why they are a light grey color having been allowed to weather naturally over time.


They used reclaimed wood to renovate the interior, which creates a very cozy feel, perfect for weathering out those summer storms. The windows they installed are large and offer great views, while effectively blurring the barrier between the indoors and the outdoors. An added benefit of using cork is also the fact that it attracted wildlife, namely sparrows which have already begun nesting here. It is nice to see architecture work this well in alliance with nature and more designers should take this into consideration when planning their projects.

The overall design of this beach house, and the use of so many renewable resources in the renovation make this a great example of what modern architecture can achieve when done right. It’s also great that the home was designed in a way that allows it to blend into the surrounding area like it was always a part of it.