Inside a barn conversion pioneering hemp as a building material

Using innovative, carbon-negative hempcrete, this conversion project is a masterclass in innovating with sustainable materials.

By Hugh Metcalf | 22 April 2020

In this experimental farmhouse project, the use of innovative, carbon-negative materials helped the owners achieve their eco goals.

Practice Architecture Flat House Complete Image Credit Oskar Proctor - conversions - grand designs

Image: Oskar Proctor 

Run by Steve Barron and Fawnda Denham, Margent Farm in Cambridgehire is part 20-acre hemp farm, part bio-plastic research project. The duo asked London-based Practice Architecture to create a new farmhouse, converting an industrial barn into a ground-breaking prototype that makes use of the site’s natural resources and expertise.

Hempcrete

Practice Architecture Flat House Complete Image Credit Oskar Proctor - conversions - grand designs

Image: Oskar Proctor 

The main structural walls of the 3-bedroom home are made from pre-fabricated panels designed by the architects using hempcrete – fibres of the hemp plant mixed with lime and water to created a concrete-like substance – and set within a timber frame.

However, unlike concrete, whose component cement is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions on the planet, hempcrete is carbon negative, meaning that more carbon is taken out of the atmosphere in growing the hemp than in the production of the resulting material.

The materials have been left raw and unfinished in the home ot highlight the innovative construction method.