World’s Tallest Residential Building Constructed Using Hempcrete Blocks Goes Up in Cape Town

  • 84 Harrington Street in Cape Town is officially the world’s tallest building constructed using hempcrete blocks and hemp building materials.

A partnership between two Cape Town-based companies, Hemporium, and Afrimat Hemp, 84 Harrington Street is setting the benchmark for how to build a safe, carbon-neutral, multi-story building using hemp blocks and hemp systems.

“I bought 84 Harrington in 2016, with the idea being that it would become the flagship Hemporium store, a steak restaurant, and house the ‘Hemp Hotel’, a place where people can experience living in a hemp-constructed space.

From a sustainability and eco-construction perspective, we wanted to take hemp construction in South Africa to the next level, while also contributing to the inspiring hemp construction projects being undertaken globally.

We also believed that once licenses for the commercialization of hemp in South Africa were issued, having innovative examples of what can be achieved with hemp would assist with leading the way for the fledgling hemp industry in South Africa,” Duncan Parker, Founding Partner and CEO, Hemporium.

Afrimat hemp bricks. Image credit: Afrimat

There is a massive increase in the global demand for bio-based construction which is driven by the need for the reduction of CO₂ emissions. Hemp construction is considered the gold standard for CO₂ reduction in buildings.

The South African government has initiated a drive to create employment within the industrial hemp sector, therefore the timing to develop hempcrete-based construction materials is ideal.

Previously, hemp houses built in South Africa used hempcrete. For a project of 84 Harrington’s scale, this was not feasible, and inspiration was taken from hemp blocks developed in Europe. The creation of hemp blocks is a viable way to commercialize hemp in the construction industry.

“With this in mind, Hemporium naturally looked for a strategic partner on this project, which we found in Afrimat Hemp,” Tony Budden, Founding Partner and Director, Hemporium.

Afrimat Hempcrete blocks. Image credit: Afrimat

“Afrimat, a mid-tier mining company, prides itself on having an innovative and entrepreneurial culture, always looking at global trends. A subsidiary, Afrimat Hemp, focuses on carbon-neutral construction and unlocking value in the industrial hemp sector.

Afrimat Hemp has developed its own formulated lime binder for hempcrete and is producing hempcrete blocks at one of its commercial block plants,” Boshoff Muller, Managing Director, Afrimat Hemp.

Afrimat Hemp is leading the way in South Africa and Africa for a new era of carbon-neutral building materials and investing in a sustainable future in construction, and proudly supplied the hempcrete blocks and building systems for 84 Harrington Street.

The benefits of using hemp in a multi-story building:

  1. Hemp is 100% natural, CO₂ absorbing, energy saving, and durable,
  2. The superior acoustic performance ensures privacy between units.
  3. Vapour-permeability: The ability of hempcrete to easily absorb and release moisture assists with regulating the buildings’ internal humidity, thus maintaining a healthy indoor air quality.
  4. The lower density of the hemp blocks reduces the load of the walls on the foundations & therefore the cost of concrete.
  5. Using hemp blocks reduces the CO₂ footprint of a building as well as its operational CO₂ footprint.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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