Designers In The Know, Know Hemp

Blog By Dermot Moore
It certainly looks promising for the burgeoning hemp industry. 

Designers, Architects and architectural researchers have demonstrated their interest and confidence in hemp in construction. With sustainability trends only mounting in the aftermath of COP26, we expect hemp to receive even more attention. In addition, designers and architectural courses investigate a broad spectrum of sustainable materials to keep up with growing environmental concerns.

Architects heeding the hempen call

Internationally, Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), an influential design, urban planning and engineering firm, have proposed a new large scale urban planning scheme incorporating hemp into large city construction projects. The Urban Sequoia project offers tall cityscape buildings to act like man-made models of the mighty Sequoia tree. The plan is to combine hemp with other sustainable, carbon sequestering materials. That organisations such as SOM see hemp in the future of our urban environments is a promising sign. Hemp has the potential to equal and even outshine current, less sustainable building practices. 

Hudson Architects

In the UK, Hudson Architects is well-known for its extensive portfolio, crossing from housing to education and the heritage sectors. Their interest in sustainable design has led Hudson Architects to involve themselves with an EU building project called CobBauge. Approved under the European cross-border cooperation Program INTERREG, CobBauge’s goal, as stated in its action plan, is:

 “To create an economical, insulating construction material with low environmental impact and to reduce the volume of waste landfilled by using the earth already in place for the construction of the buildings.” 

Another partner in this project is The Sustainable Earth Institute in Plymouth. It is in Plymouth that the initial prototype building is underway. And yes, hemp is one of three primary materials in constructing the classroom/laboratory. French and British designers collaborated, paying homage to construction techniques once standard in the channel regions. The success of this project so far has convinced Hudson Architects to take the chance on hemp and the cob method and secure the first domestic CobBauge construction in Fakenham, Norfolk.

Practice Architecture

Making great strides in the architectural world is Practice Architecture. After designing Margent Farm, the home and brainchild of Film and TV Director Steve Barron, this practice is on the top rung concerning innovation in sustainable construction. Set in the rolling fields of Cambridgeshire, the farmhouse’s structure is a mixture of hemp and lime, using hemp from Steve’s very own crop. Subsequently, Practice Architecture was commended for its role in the project by architectural journals, such as RIBA magazine.

These are just a few organisations helping the hemp industry’s early growth. Still, they lay a promising image of a cleaner, more breathable future—a future not dominated by massive energy-consuming and pollution guzzling structures.


Margent Farm Sudio
The Studio at Margent Farm
Sources – SOM – Plymouth CobBauge project – Hudson Architects 


If you have any questions or would like more information on Hemspan’s plans for the future, we’d love to hear from you. .