Gizem Demirkiran, a second-year student in the Master in Advanced Architecture (MAA02), has been awarded the ‘Santiago Zapata’ Award for “Corteza”, her research on cork.

Corteza is a collaborative project involving Gizem Demirkiran, Author (IAAC); Marcos Cruz, Co-Author (IAAC, Bio-ID/UCL); Ricardo Mayor, Corresponding-Author (IAAC); María Verdum, Co-Author (ICSURO); and Eduard Ventalló, Co-Author (ICSURO).

Gizem Demirkiran received the prize last week at the Cork Museum in Girona after a lecture by Ricardo Mayor, the corresponding author of the research and IAAC Faculty.

The project research will be also presented at the symposium BIOCALIBRATED SYMPOSIUM MA BIODESIGN CSM which will take place between 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2023 organised by Central Saint Martins University of the Arts in London.

Corteza: 3D Printing Cork-based Bio-Composite Materials for Design Applications

The research is directed towards addressing the issue of noise pollution and assessing the potential of 3D-printed cork as a sustainable solution. The primary focus is on contributing to the global initiative to combat noise pollution, given its adverse effects on human health and well-being. Specifically, the research aims to use innovative nature-based materials and advanced fabrication techniques to develop effective and sustainable solutions.

In the first phase, the investigation centers on utilizing cork as a bio-composite material, taking advantage of its natural sound-absorbing properties. Various types of cork granules and clay are tested to evaluate the flexibility, strength, and noise absorption coefficient of each material. This involves the development of a versatile method, such as 3D printing, to facilitate the creation of new indoor furniture.

The second phase of the research aims to examine different levels of porosity and sound-absorbing capabilities within 3D-printed cork bio-composite. Various geometries with porous and flexible surfaces are designed during this stage to optimize the material’s acoustic insulation properties by capitalizing on cork’s effective sound wave absorption.


Material-Driven Design: Corteza Chair

The Corteza chair was designed with the aim of creating a furniture piece that can reduce indoor noise pollution. Leveraging the porosity of the cork bio-composite and the surface area of the chair’s complex geometry, sound waves are trapped, reducing overall reverberation in the room. To enhance the chair’s strength at weaker points, the extruded patterns were densified at midpoints and infills to prevent fracturing after the drying process. After a week of drying, the modules were stiff, prompting the use of a mold to press them together. Once fully dry, the Corteza chair could support a human body.

The research outcomes demonstrate the potential of 3D-printed cork bio-composites in furniture as an effective and promising means to mitigate noise pollution within our homes. This study represents a step forward in leveraging advanced fabrication processes of nature-based materials for furniture design, opening up new opportunities for future research into novel cork-based composites to enhance noise comfort in indoor spaces.

Read here to discover the full process.

CORTEZA is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the C-Biom. A group in the Master in Advanced Architecture 02 – 2022-2023 by the student Gizem Demirkiran during the course MAA02 22/23 Thesis Cluster with Marcos Cruz and Ricardo Mayor Luque.

About the Santiago Zapata Awards

The “Santiago Zapata” Research Awards aim to promote applied research in the thematic field of cork across the realms of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and technology. These awards are annually convened by the Cork Studies Chair at the University of Girona. They are named after Santiago Zapata in recognition of the decisive impetus that the Extremaduran professor provided to cork research from a multidisciplinary perspective.

About the Master in Advanced Architecture

The Master in Advanced Architecture programme focuses on training architects, designers and engineers, acquiring multidisciplinary skills, to practice radical architecture that creates positive cultural, environmental and social impact. The programme offers a diversity of high-end content in Design Studios ranging from urban and building to material scale.


Apply to the Master in Advanced Architecture today, the first Application Period for the Academic Year 2024/25 is now open.