South Africa July 13, 2011

The Hemp House : Africa’s Most Sustainable Building

This past weekend Tony Budden from Hemporium invited us over for a personal tour of his newly completed hemp home. His house, which is considered to be the “most sustainable building in Africa”, sits comfortably upon the foot of the mountain range overlooking Noordhoek, Cape Town, with unobstructed views of the wetlands and the beautiful shore line.

Hemp House Noordhoek
View over-looking Noordhoek beach, Cape Town

Industrial Hemp house

Considering the extent to which this building is renowned for its eco-friendliness, we were surprised at its very modern appearance. The two-bedroom house is characteristically sharp-angled, sleek and minimalistic. Nonetheless, the inner-walls are decorated so as to give off an organic feel, with painted walls being contrasted with rough, textured walls, and others that are finished with wood. We noticed a small and precise circular opening in one of the walls, and decided to ask Tony about it. He explained that it was like an eye, giving us a glimpse into what the house is actually made of: layers of hempcrete, hemp insulation and hemp plaster.

The home is said to have anti-bacterial properties due to the fact that the walls are made of hemp – a hollow, organic fibre that allows the walls to breathe, purifying the air. The climate in the house is controlled by a thermostat which operates small motors that automatically open and close the windows. It shuts all the windows when it’s cold outside allowing the well-insulated house to be heated easily using a single panel heater. Similarly when it gets hot, the thermostat will open up certain windows in the house, creating a draft and moving air within, to keep the house cool. This is definitely a smart alternative to regular air conditioning, allowing buildings to be cooled in a more eco-friendly manner.

Hemporium's Hemp House

hempcrete and hemp insulation
a glimpse into the wall: hempcrete, hemp insulation and hemp plaster
regulating windows
windows automatically open & close to regulate temperature and air-flow

Before proceeding upstairs, Tony asked us to remove our shoes. We soon discover why our host has introduced this Japanese custom for visitors of the top floor, his office and living area: It is carpeted with a magnificent hemp carpet. Placing our bare feet upon it reminded us how versatile the hemp plant is: whilst sturdy enough to be used as the foundational material for a house, it can also be used to make something very soft and delicate.

Almost all the furniture is made from hemp; everything from the carpets and couches to the lamp shades and duvets. Even the paintings on the walls are painted on hemp canvas. But one of the interior features which we loved the most had to be the shower! The shower was built inside a glass-box, which was attached to the master bedroom upstairs, rendering it suspended off the side of the house. The glass is glazed up to about chest-height so you can watch the sunrise in privacy, whilst washing your hair. I personally prefer this to Richard Branson’s island exposed toilet throne.

hemp house cape town
suspended shower box (top right) & vegetable garden

Hemp home interior

Our appreciation of this house, however, extends beyond the mere fact that it is a modern building which is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. The Hemp House constitutes proof of the viability of a brand new concept – that of a home which can be constructed almost entirely from the use of hemp product. Furthermore, the hemp used to build this home was grown in under a year, and the construction of the house itself took only eight months from start to finish. Thus, the hemp house is a standing example of the viability of replacing traditional building materials with hemp, and is a reminder of the amazing benefits which might be gained from a more extensive integration of this amazing product into our personal lives, and society on the whole.

On behalf of Below The Lion, we would like to thank Tony for giving us a personal tour of his home and for his warm hospitality. If anyone has any questions about the house or hemp construction and housing, please feel free to ask in the comments section below!

Some more photos:

hemp kitchen
Beautifully furnished kitchen made from recycled wood
stairs
Spiral staircase leading upstairs to the bedrooms & study
hemp carpet
Living area, complete with hemp furniture and carpets
surf report
Checking out the surf from the study upstairs

MORE HEMP?
RADIO INTERVIEW WITH TONY BUDDEN
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HEMP & WHERE IT STANDS TODAY
HEMPORIUM: INNOVATE.EDUCATE.CULTIVATE
PETITION TO LEGALIZE HEMP – SOUTH AFRICA

Related news

SA’s Best Vaporizer Store

We've reviewed them all. VapeStore.co.za offers free delivery, international warranties and lowest prices guaranteed. Did we mention great service?

Explore All Vapes On VapeStore.co.za

48 thoughts on “The Hemp House : Africa’s Most Sustainable Building

  1. In a word…. stunning!

    Amazing how the world recognised the potential and versatility of hemp for hundreds of years until it was wrongfully demonized.
    Well done Tony on a beautiful home and showing SA what the truth and potential is for hemp going forward.

  2. Very good article. It’s great to see this!

    Where is the picture of the shower?

  3. Thanks for a great article and for the visit BTL, was a pleasure having you there. One thing I would like to point out though is that I am not truly comfortable with the label “Africa’s most sustainable house” that has been given to the house by quite a few articles now. We know we have come a long way, but the reality is that as we had to import the hemp, we are still only representing what could be. When we are able to grow, harvest, process the hemp right where the houses are needed, then will we see true sustainability and be able to take advantage of all the extra products to be made from hemp. Thank you for your support in helping to bring awareness towards this possibility and our drive to make this a reality. Last year in the UK a farmer did exactly that, grew his hemp, had it processed, and built his house, all in the space of a year. That is the goal! Right now all the mud houses in the ‘kei or anywhere else in Africa, all the cob houses, strawbale houses etc, are more sustainable than our house.
    So, thanks for the compliments and encouragement, but for now we accept that there is still some way to go in order to make hemp building truly sustainable and available to all of you to build your own dream hemp houses. Thanks for the continued support, it is highly appreciated from all of us here at Hemporium.
    Keep it flowing

  4. the roof what is going on there ?

  5. yeah i have the same or similar question, did tony get a quote for the entire construction of the house from hemp if how much is that compared to if he got a quote to build the house from normal building material? is it cheaper to use hemp or more expensive and by how much?

  6. Just a quicky.. What would be the rounded off cost of a house ike this? I mean your materials grown in a year, built in less than a year.. soooo worth it… 🙂

  7. I really appreciate the ingenuity of your house. It is awesome! Is the structure of the house supported by a timber frame? Do any of the hemp walls provide any form of support or load bearing?

  8. Amazing house! It’s sad to think hemp is one of the most versatile, if not THE most versatile plant on earth and its also the most persecuted of all.
    Great to see there’s some initiative to divulge the long lost uses of this wonderful plant!

  9. Cool house compared to conventional methods but as Tony stated not the most sustainable house in the country. If hemp cultivation can be legalised in SA then the carbon footprint will be reduced dramatically by eliminating import. Some other alternative and sustainable building methods.
    http://www.mat.org.za/index.html
    Combine cob with hemp = awesomeness

  10. A few years ago I’d have to pay someone for this ifonramiton.

  11. Checked Tony and his house on Green Lines (SABC 3) yesterday. Loved the promotion of hemp, but do take exception to him blaming the banning of hemp on the consumption of cannabis.
    The consumption of cannabis has the same right to be available and used, as hemp does. I respect Tony’s efforts to breach the hemp issue and the progress he is making.
    Please keep in mind though that (low THC or not) it is all still the same plant and if you are simply pro-hemp, don’t blame the cannabis consumer for the ban on hemp. Cannabis was banned as a means of political opression. No more, no less.
    If anything, the cannabis consumer remains a victim of unjust and outdated laws.

  12. Buzz said:
    Checked Tony and his house on Green Lines (SABC 3) yesterday. Loved the promotion of hemp, but do take exception to him blaming the banning of hemp on the consumption of cannabis.
    The consumption of cannabis has the same right to be available and used, as hemp does. I respect Tony’s efforts to breach the hemp issue and the progress he is making.

    Please keep in mind though that (low THC or not) it is all still the same plant and if you are simply pro-hemp, don’t blame the cannabis consumer for the ban on hemp. Cannabis was banned as a means of political opression. No more, no less.

    If anything, the cannabis consumer remains a victim of unjust and outdated laws.

    stand behind you on that comment 100% just read that jack herer book emperor wears no clothes. he talks about the uses of the plant as medicine. that book is packed with information if you read it you will know that weed/hemp wat ever u wana call it SHOULD BE LEGAL! (in all aspects not just hemp)

  13. Buzz said:
    Checked Tony and his house on Green Lines (SABC 3) yesterday. Loved the promotion of hemp, but do take exception to him blaming the banning of hemp on the consumption of cannabis.
    The consumption of cannabis has the same right to be available and used, as hemp does. I respect Tony’s efforts to breach the hemp issue and the progress he is making.

    Please keep in mind though that (low THC or not) it is all still the same plant and if you are simply pro-hemp, don’t blame the cannabis consumer for the ban on hemp. Cannabis was banned as a means of political opression. No more, no less.

    If anything, the cannabis consumer remains a victim of unjust and outdated laws.

    I agree with this 100%

  14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v74tc_IpjUw

    Was on early MOnday morning. Good going, nice interview, lovely plant.

  15. I also got this link from a friend and watched it. Really cool, I’m glad he is getting some exposure and more people are made aware of the qualities of hemp!

  16. Fantastic to see Tony and his hemp drive getting some more publicity. Also wonderful that the media has an open mind in regards to hemp.

  17. Tony is a ledgend. Thanks for sharing lowrider!

  18. awesome interview and great promotion of hemp to the general public.
    hemp all the way*

  19. Don’t miss the Hemp House on SABC 3’s Top Billing tonight

  20. gonna get me pops to watch it 🙂

  21. Hello Justin,

  22. Hello Justin, I am doing a Capstone project at Syracuse University. It is based around the idea of power, sustainable windows with the addition of compatibility with thermostat. Here, in your article is one of the only few places I’ve seemed to find anything close to the product I am researching. If it is possible to E-mail me, I would like to further discuss information on the system. If possible, you could put me in contact with the creator/installer of that product? I appreciate your time.
    Thank you,
    Edward Cohen

  23. Tony I am inspired by your work my man, I always thought hemp had great potential but never dreamed that it could actually be used to build a house. I am making it one of my personal missions to get a movement behind the legalization of planting, harvesting and producing materials such as those you used in order to benefit our environment. does hemporium have a twitter or facebook page?

  24. usertest1 said:
    Hello Justin, I am doing a Capstone project at Syracuse University. It is based around the idea of power, sustainable windows with the addition of compatibility with thermostat. Here, in your article is one of the only few places I’ve seemed to find anything close to the product I am researching. If it is possible to E-mail me, I would like to further discuss information on the system. If possible, you could put me in contact with the creator/installer of that product? I appreciate your time.
    Thank you,
    Edward Cohen

    I would assume that the best person for you to contact would be Tony Budden from Hemporium as he was involved in the development of the house.

  25. […] For info see our in depth article about South Africa’s First Hemp House. […]

  26. I’m sorry, while I’m all for sustainable building, please explain how this is “the most sustainable house in Africa”. While the walls etc. are made from a renewable resource, I am sure concrete footings were used for a house of this size, this already puts it below 90% of dwellings built in Africa using nothing but mud and wood. Not to mention the electrical appliances (I do not see solar panels) high quality fitting etc. which all have an impact on the environment. I do applaud what you have done here and think it is a lovely building, but claiming to be the most sustainable building is a bit of a joke!
    Would also not like to think of the consequences for those down-wind if this caught fire!

  27. Thanks for sharing! Love the pics! Do you mind if we share them to promote the many uses of hemp? We often have expert guests on our show talking about hemp. http://cannabisnationradio.com http://facebook.com/reformwarrior

  28. […] Budden (a man whose home in Noordhoek is built entirely from hemp, and is said to be “the most sustainable building in Africa“). A special thanks must go to our Greenpop hosts Misha and Lauren as well as the rest of […]

  29. I’ve read that the Hemp building blocks contain a lot of lime (like concrete) that is heavily manufactured (kiln’s and chemical decomposition) which emits an insane amount of C02 in the process. These hemp blocks are also touted as being carbon negative because they slowly absorb C02 from its surroundings (as well as the hemp plant during growth). But has anyone determined if the C02 in manufacturing (and currently transporting because the lack of local material) some of these materials is equivalent to the branding they are receiving in the end?
    I am only consciously looking for an answer as I become aware of the beauty and diversity that mother nature can provide and we should be taking advantage of but in a manner that is true to her.
    Thank you for the article and propagation of such a wonderful material.
    ~Kev

  30. […] casa mais sustentável da África, a construção de cânhamo recém finalizada foi apresentada ao Below the Lion, por Tony Budden do site Hemporium, […]

  31. Hi Tony,
    I’m in the process of organizing tours that will showcase not only the beauty of the region but also design related projects during the World Design Capital year and beyond. I see your house made of hemp was accepted as a Design project by WDC. Question, would you accept visitors to your home? Can we get in contact to discuss this further. Our project, Live Design Tours was also accepted by WDC and we would love to include your house as part of our Cape Point route.
    Looking forward to hear from you.
    Thana
    082 603 5090

  32. […] I had to speak to the here and now of hemp in South Africa, owner of Hemporium and SA’s famous Hemp House, Tony Budden. As a long time advocate of hemp and a key part of the latest South African hemp […]

  33. Breathtaking photos! who knew simple hemp could do this. Its great to see it being incorporated into sustainability for buildings. Found another article, one can use for ideas http://www.hippo.co.za/blog/health/Sustainable-materials-The-cost-effective-home-building-guide/

  34. […] its way to showing fruit, thanks to the immense work done by Tony Budden of Hemporium. A first hand example of what we have to gain from hemp alone will go a long way in showing what we have to gain from […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *