INHABITAT: Tony, our recent story about your Hemp House in South Africa spurred a lot of interesting discussion. Can you briefly tell us how you initially became interested in hemp as a building material?
Tony Budden: After being involved with Hemporium for many years, and learning more about this amazing resource, we followed the growth of the hemp construction industry in Europe. It is one thing to accept wearing cannabis, or even eating it, but living in it was really the next level and the seed was planted, so to speak.
INHABITAT: At what point did you decide to take this interest to the next level?
Tony Budden: In our meetings with officials in Government here, we saw how their eyes lit up when we pulled out the hemp brick and hemp insulation samples we had in our sample box, and how this spoke to such a real need in South Africa, that of sustainable houses, as our government is obliged by law to provide those who cannot afford it with a house.
The thought of being able to grow houses was definitely an attractive one, and we decided to walk the talk and build a prototype so that they could experience it on a deeper level, as well as for all the positive PR it is receiving.
Of course, after wearing hemp, washing with hemp and eating hemp for so many years, living in hemp was where I wanted to be too.
INHABITAT: Who designed the Hemp House?
Tony Budden: We worked with 2 architects, Michael Orchard of New Earth Architecture and Wolf of Wolf & Wolf Architecture, who combined forces to design a contemporary and functional house. Erwin Van Der Weerd from Perfect Places then adapted the design to fit into his modular building system and built the house.