Beautifully textured house innovates with hemp-based material

A freestanding bungalow in Belgium was transformed by Martens Van Caimere Architecten (MVC) into a modern family home that is insulated and finished with an interesting hemp-based material known as hempcrete.

A mixture of hemp, lime and water, hempcrete not only has excellent insulating properties but is also a relatively low cost building material because it combines insulating and finishing into one layer. The earthy textured finish of the hempcrete fits in well with the surrounding landscape and in particular the straitions of the surrounding Garaardsbergen.

Working with hempcrete is in many ways similar to working with concrete. A wooden formwork is constructed and hempcrete is poured into the formwork in a series of layers, with steel wire added where necessary to add strength to the construction. After the hempcrete dries, the formwork can be removed.

In addition to the use of hempcrete, the house includes a number of sustainable building strategies. Organized into quadrant around a technical block containing a bathroom and toilet, the house is self-sufficient in in its demand for energy, water and heating. A finnoven produces enough warmth for wall heating and sanitary water. Electricity is generated by south oriented solar panels and rainwater is filtered for use as drinking and washing water.

Bedrooms are situated in the north of the house, overlooking the magnolias in the courtyard. The dining room, kitchen and office are situated in the south, capturing sunlight and overlooking the ever changing landscape of the Flemish Ardennes.

Photography by Cedric Verhelst.