We've been writing about South Africa's first hemp house for a while, so it was almost mythical to finally visit the tranquil space in person and get dirty on its brand new green roof. Overlooking long stretches of beautiful beaches about 22 miles from the 2014 World Design Capital (Cape Town), the Noordhoek home represents the best of the Rainbow Nation's strident green achievements. Not only have Tony Budden and his partner Duncan Parker overcome huge legislative obstacles to get the house built since the government still considers hemp to be an illegal narcotic, but they are also blazing a path that leads to a new, sustainable industry that has amazing potential to transform the country. Listen to Tony talk about the benefits of planted roofs right after the jump.
Tony explains that the green roof is planted with sour figs – a very sturdy succulent that requires very little water and that spreads quickly. The numerous benefits of a planted roof include rainwater runoff, a reduction of the home’s carbon footprint since it redirects the soil displaced when the foundation was laid, and carbon dioxide absorption. Plants also give off oxygen and improve the overall air quality, something that is especially important in urban areas.
Tony and Duncan have been working closely with the South African government to create a sustainable new industry that will foster job creation and encourage the development of a greener economy. To date they have been given permission to establish a secure two hectare farm where they will grow one of the planet’s most diverse fibers that can be used to build homes, make carpets, lamps, and clothes, and best of all, that can be harvested a fast four months after it is planted. As for the house: it’s every bit as cool and comfortable as you’d expect from a hemp house, plus it has all the amenities of any modern home built out of less friendly materials.