The past few years have seen a hemp revolution of sorts taking the country by storm, with many states even opening up their borders to the possibility of researching the advantages of hemp and its contemporary cannabis. While for the longest, hemp has had a notorious reputation owing to many confusing it for marijuana, we are glad to see that people are finally waking up to the advantages of this plant and how it can be the sustainable and eco-friendly alternative that we need in the present climate.
In a first of its kind in India, an architect couple — Namrata Kandwal and Gaurav Dixit have built a house made using hemp fibre. Realizing the urgent need for sustainable construction materials that can replace the traditional concrete used for building houses, the couple began researching available eco-friendly alternatives. That’s when they came across ‘hempcrete’.
Passionate about green buildings and ecological lifestyles, their area of interest in research has been hemp. In an interview with India Times about the use of hemp, Dixit said, “We started researching and found that buildings can be made using materials that can be grown on a farm. That is how we came across ‘hempcrete’, and during our research, we found that this was already prevalent in ancient India. The Archeological Survey of India has found evidence of hemp fibre being used in the Ellora Caves. Since hemp fibre is being used for construction in many parts of the world we decided to try the same in India.”
Further adding, “The advantage hempcrete has against traditional concrete is that for one, this is a growable product, two this is a byproduct of hemp fibre processing, which would otherwise be wasted. As the use of hemp fibre in textile and other industries grows, the amount of raw material available will also increase, which will further reduce the prices.”
The Himalayan Hemp Eco Stay project has been built in a small hamlet in Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. They chose Uttarakhand both for the ease of working with hemp in the region as well as because it is Kandwal’s ancestral home. Since then, the couple has founded their start-up, ‘GoHemp’.
The eco-stay was built using a mixture of hemp, wood, and lime and operates on a zero-energy model with its 3-kilowatt rooftop solar panels and a 4,000-litre underground rainwater harvesting tank, from which water is drawn using a hand pump. Treated water from a wastewater facility at the premises also helps nourish flowers and vegetables in its accompanying garden.
Furthermore, the homestay has two rooms on two levels and the interiors are a blend of the vernacular Himalayan architecture with the modern hempcrete technology. In fact, hemp is used in innovative ways throughout the house. The monolith wall panels, precast block partitions, and roof insulation are all hemp-based, with hemp oil used for polishing the walls and hemp-based lime and mud plasters covering the interiors.
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