Hemp is a natural plant and a natural building material that has been around since ancient times. It is a strong plant with deep roots – so deep that it can’t be grown like a household plant in a pot inside of your living room. Instead, farmers are planting hemp all over the globe – both above the equator and below – for use as a building material.
Hemp plants grow quickly. Once they are tall and mature, the stalks are cut and dried and then set in large vats of water, where the stalks swell up. Then the stalks are blended with some other stuff and a concrete-like material is created. This material can be made into blocks or bricks and assembled as a regular brick structure is made.
The advantages of Hemp construction:
- it grows quickly
- it is easily renewable
- it produces very little waste, compared to other building material production
- pests do not live in it (like termites in wood)
Hemp is controversial, though, and until laws are passed that allow farmers to grow it, people might not see many houses made of hemp for a while.
Here is a great article about hemp architecture in the New York Times.