High hopes for hemp house

Article By: Pippa Ehrlich
South Africa’s building industry has taken another step forward. High up on a hill overlooking the sea in Noordhoek, Western Cape, stands the House that Hemp Built.
The first of its kind in South Africa, the building was constructed almost entirely of materials that could be grown on a few hectares of land within months.
The house belongs to Tony Budden, co-owner of hemp company Hemporium, who has been exploring and showcasing the product in South Africa since founding his company in 1996. He’s been working on his remarkable home since 2005 and his idea has finally become concrete – or rather, hempcrete.
The house was conceived as a prototype for future projects in South Africa. Housing is one of the government’s most pressing challenges, and building with hemp (Cannabis sativa) could make housing projects more affordable and more sustainable.
In four months one hectare of hemp can produce enough material for a strong and well insulated home that’s suitable for the government’s Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).
And after harvesting the first crop, materials for another house could be grown on the same land.
Ideal eco-building material
Hemp is increasingly being recognised as an ideal eco-building material, especially in Europe and Britain, where authorities are using hemp in pilot homes in their housing and eco-estates.
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