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‘Ingenious’ Cork House wins RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize 2019

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An ‘ingenious’ bespoke house in Berkshire made almost entirely from cork has been revealed as the winner of this year’s RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize 

The low-carbon Cork House, designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, scooped the £5,000 prize at the Stirling Prize party held at the Roundhouse in Camden this evening. 

The house, which has also been nominated for the Stirling Prize, is located in the grounds of a Grade II-listed 19th-century mill house on the banks of the Thames in Eton.


It has solid structural cork walls and a cork roof, meaning it has exceptionally low whole-life carbon. Its RIBA National Award citation described it as ‘a structure of great ingenuity’ which ‘beautifully reflects and respects the natural surroundings in form and construction’.

Stephen Lawrence Prize founder Marco Goldschmied said: ‘Cork House is a unique fusion of ancient construction methods and cutting-edge technical research to produce a highly innovative, low-carbon solution with a wide variety of applications from mass housing to emergency shelters.’

The judges also gave a special mention and a £1,000 prize to Tikari Works’ Pocket House, described as a ‘beautifully detailed family home’.

This year, the 2019 Stephen Lawrence Prize shortlist was dominated by private houses, with bespoke one-off homes making up five of the six finalists for the £5,000 award.

Other finalists included Dualchas Architects’ The Black House in the Isle of Skye, The Green House in Devon by David Sheppard Architects, and South London House by Jonathan Pile Architect.

The only non-residential finalist is HASA Architects’ transformation of a derelict horticultural glasshouse in Highgate, north London, into a community garden and event space.

The prize recognises the best new project in the UK with a construction cost of under £1 million. It was set up in 1998 in memory of Stephen Lawrence, who had intended to become an architect before he was murdered in a racially motivated attack.

Stephen Lawrence Prize founder Marco Goldschmied, whose foundation donates the £5,000 cash for the winner as well as a further £5,000 to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, said the prize aimed ‘to encourage ingenuity and diversity among aspiring and practising architects’.

Cork house 10©alex de rijke

Cork House, Berkshire, by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton Judges: ‘An ingenious, experimental, carbon-neutral private house made almost entirely from cork’

Source: Alex de Rijke

WINNER: Cork House, Berkshire, by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton

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