The Cork House | Forest Gate | E7

The Cork House

Forest Gate | E7


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The Area

Forest Gate has a history of offering a mosaic of woodland and grazing (it’s in the name!), forming part of Wanstead Flats and wider Epping Forest. Not many know about this hidden green oasis in the far reaches of the East End. 

This one-of-a-kind home was recently completed on a plot in the heart of Forest Gate. 

Finding a plot of land of this size and potential in London is becoming an increasing rarity, but for Mr C who designed and developed the property, it was an opportunity not to miss. 

The site was just a post-war gap between houses, left to the elements for too long.  Planning was achieved for a 3-bedroom house on the site, with a split lower and upper-level layout, creating almost a hidden home in residential Newham.

Architecture and property

‘The internal face of the house is all clad in waterproofed cork sheets, perfect for retaining heat and acoustics. It also has a subtle wood bark smell, which defined our relationship with the house’, Mr C explains as he walks me through the process of build & eventual design. The soil was of solid clay ground when preparing the site, thus foundation works were smooth, great for the lower floor’s concrete ‘basin’.  

Pink-hued facing bricks are used for the exterior, alongside low-carbon blockwork to form cavity walls, where exposed Douglas Fir roof joists sit on and form the flat green roofs. Mr C explains how they had to use a ‘contrasting’ material for the taller volume of the roof, so went for corrugated metal sheets to clad the upper level of the house. The house is surrounded by gardens on all sides, which ensures that all the courtyards are visually and physically connected. Skylights are consciously positioned throughout for daylight to stream into the house. 

Natural materials are used throughout to give a harmony to the aesthetic, with cork sheets lining the cavity walls, treated plywood panels used to line the ceiling and breathable lime render on all internal partitions. The floor is finished with poured resin over underfloor heating; a wonderful treat for barefoot living. Brass kitchen cabinetry is used to bring drama and to reflect light in the centre of the house, a bold statement for a home with otherwise organic finishes. 


Mr C talked to me about how he wanted to build beautiful sustainability into the house, which is why they opted for cork sheets.  This sustainable awareness is echoed in the low-carbon blockwork and lime render. The house achieves a blend of being visually attractive whilst retaining the all-important sustainability creds. The level of thoughtfulness brought to the materials throughout the house also delivers cheaper energy bills!

As an architect, Mr C has always wanted to build his own house and came across the plot online by chance. Having been living in North London, with no prior connection to Forest Gate, he and his partner suddenly realised what could be achieved, in this exciting location.  In order to achieve planning requirements, the house could not be too tall, so they opted for a half-sunken lower-ground floor level for the principal bedroom and ensuite bathroom. 

This resulted in a shorter flight of stairs with no landing to reduce the flow around levels, consequently opening up an additional room in the stairwell itself. The windows in the central courtyard also connect the level visually from room to room.

As the internal face of the house is cork clad, this keeps heat in and provides additional natural insulation and a textured approach, creating an almost cocoon-like feel to the house.

Out and About

As this is a genuine East End residential area, it has an obvious energy for regeneration given its proximity to the Elizabeth Line. This area has become increasingly popular with young families, benefitting from a great school network and rapid access to City, Stansted and Luton airports. 

Close by are Forest Gate Arches, recently regenerated to include an array of great local businesses. Some choice pickings include, Wild Goose Bakery, an artisan bakery, an authentic Italian delicatessen and Pretty Decent Beer Company, an independent brewery just at the end of the road!  The Holly Tree pub just around the corner has been refurbished and is perfect for a Sunday roast.

Hackney Wick and Stratford are close by as well, with a vast array of pubs, bars and restaurants, and the Westfield shopping centre is a short drive. 

A real asset is the proximity to the huge natural areas of Wanstead Flats, and the close proximity to Epping Forest. “Whenever we want to take a break from working at home, we go for a walk in the Flats trying out different paths. It is massive, full of ponds and lakes teeming with nature. Wellies are a must though “ said Mr C. 

Transport Links

Forest Gate overground is a 9 minute walk, connecting straight through to Liverpool Street for the City, and linking up with Stratford for the Central Line. Wanstead Park overground is also a 7 minute stroll, linking West to East, and is only two stops to Barking for the district line. An array of 24-hour buses from Forest Road take you straight into Stratford Westfield and the Olympic in under 30 minutes.


The Cork House, Field Road, Forest Gate, London, E7


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