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The Big Picture: A Conversation with Material Cultures

Founding director Paloma Gormley sits down with WLLW to discuss the potential of bio-based materials, and how we can make meaningful progress towards a post-carbon built environment.

“As a practice, we advocate for bio-based materials in construction – they’re better for the environment, better for biodiversity and better for our health.”

Paloma Gormley

Eucalyptus, pine resin, sawdust, and other matter used in Material Cultures’ research projects, created by their Central Saint Martin students Adam Stanford and Sabina Shaybazyan. Image courtesy Material Cultures
Underfloor heating. Old Kent Road, London. Image from Material Reform by Material Cultures. Courtesy of Jess Gough and MACK, 2022
East Bros Timber Ltd timber merchant and sawmill, West Dean, Salisbury. Image from Material Reform by Material Cultures. Courtesy of Jess Gough and MACK, 2022
Wolves Lane Horticultural Centre. A current development rooted in principles of social justice and agroecology, by Material Cultures and a consortium of organizations. Image courtesy of Material Cultures
Site work at Wolves Lane will begin this year, with buildings constructed from a system of straw bales and lightweight timber, with materials drawn from the bioregion. Image courtesy of Material Cultures
Flat House, Margent Farm, UK. The careful orchestration of natural materials creates a building that regulates humidity, temperature and air quality without the need for any ducting or equipment. image courtesy of Oskar Proctor
Flat House was designed to demonstrate how a low-tech approach and bio-based materials can be combined with offsite construction to create scalable low-impact, beautiful architecture. Image courtesy of Oskar Proctor
Corrugated sheets for the exterior cladding of the three-bedroom house were developed from hemp fibre grown on site at the farm. Image courtesy of Oskar Proctor
Working closely with engineers and material specialists Material Cultures developed a prefabricated hempcrete panel construction. The elements were raised into place in just two days. Image courtesy of Oskar Proctor

“There is a growing awareness that a lot of the materials that we have been casually putting into our homes for a long time are toxic and contributing to really dangerous levels of interior air pollution.”

Paloma Gormley

The Phoenix Housing project. Image courtesy of Material Culture.
Images courtesy of Mack Books