This Award Winning Tiny Home in Essex is Clad in Cork

The Redshank is a tiny house that looks hovers above the Essex marshland on steel poles that are painted red like the legs of the wading bird that is its namesake. The unique tiny house is clad in cork without a polyurethane coating, with the panels being weathered to a lovely soft grey color with black flecks. Cork used as the cladding is a renewable, insulating, and resistant building material that is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree. Cork is becoming a popular building material.

Cork is a building material that is durable, stable, breathable insulating, but not water permeable. Architect Lisa Shell was commissioned to design the small beach house for a plot that was flood-prone on the edge of Essex. The client opted for cork and cross-laminated timber (CLT) as the main building materials that were used on the tiny house to keep it in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. The artist couple who commissioned the tiny house design, which replaced a dilapidated timber framed 1920s beach house. The couple wanted a weekend home that would surpass the planning requirements in terms of the building control requirements, flood risk mitigation, and expectations in design innovation. Shell designed the tiny home to resemble a hide that provides the residents with some privacy, distance, peace, and a sense of isolation. The tiny home also had to overcome a few building site challenges to include floods that recently hit the area with a few feet of water.

The tiny home is elevated on red steel stilts just like a Redshank wader. The tiny home is constructed in CLT with an expanded cork agglomerate overcoat. The cork panels used in the tiny house design were created from the by-product from wine cork production in Portuga. Only heat and compression were used to form a chemical bond between the cork chips. The designers decided not to apply any polyurethane coating to the cork panels, resulting in a bleached grey color facade with black flecks. The Redshank tiny house design has an airtight enclosure that is heated with a small wood burning stove which reduces the energy that is required to keep the space warm.

The new tiny house designed helped to increase the amount of land that was available to flora and fauna within the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Within two months of completion of the tiny home, sparrows had already taken up residence in one of the integrated nesting boxes. When designing the tiny house is was important that support was also won for the unconventional home design from the community from both the permanent and occasional residents in the small hamlet. Inside the tiny home, there are only three rooms to include living, bedroom and bathroom. Each window in the tiny home is proportioned according to the surrounding view and function, from the large sea-facing window wind turbines and Maunsell forts can be seen, with the kitchen window framing views of the approach and the doors onto access deck that overlooks the estuary and marsh. The tiny house also has a secret CLT sliding door that opens onto the west-facing balcony for passing through food and drink.

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