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Hempcrete House

A design that pushes brutalism into eco-friendly territory. This is a beautiful example of new technologies being put to use to make the planet alittle greener.

Site Factors to Consider

Location: Germanicus, Ontario

Seasons
Seasons

According to weather reports, these are the average temperatures for the site's location

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Occupancy
Occupancy

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Ideal Glazing
Ideal Glazing

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Seasons
Seasons

According to weather reports, these are the average temperatures for the site's location

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The Design

The 1238 sqft home is made up of a new environmentally friendly material called "Hempcrete". Made of hemp hurds and lime, hempcrete acts as a fireproof, waterproof, sound-resistant, thermal mass that can perform in any climate. (More on hempcrete at the bottom).

The site is situated in cabin-country near Algonquin National Park, outside of Kwartha Lakes. The cross-sectional design of the home divides the different volumes through elevation, which reflects the site's slight incline, and evokes a clear transition between spaces. The home is designed to juxtapose the verticality of the surrounding forest, which is emphasized by the contrasting colours of grey-ish walls and the browns and greens of the site.

The choice of designing in the brutalist style was not only to push a, proven environmentally harmful, practice into eco-friendly territory, but also to provoke a communication between the site and the building. By using a material that is stone-like in appearance, we can get a design that looks like it was meant to be built in the forest in much the same way as you'll find giant boulders in the nearby park. The house doesn't appear as though it took from nature (as a log cabin would), but instead appears as though it exists in harmony with the surrounding nature. The austerity of brutalism also emphasizes the colourful interior views of the surrounding picturesque location.  

Unlike concrete, whose use accounts for over 8% of the annual human-generated CO2 emissions, Hempcrete can absorb between 19 to 300 pounds of CO2 during the binding process per cubic foot, making it one of the only "negative carbon" materials on the planet. The material is even completely biodegradable; when demolished it can be used as an organic fertilizer.
Although hempcrete is only 1/20th of the compressive strength of residential concrete (145PSI) and requires the use of a wooden stud core for load bearing walls, it makes up for it in its durability and elasticity; hempcrete will eventually petrify which allows it to last hundreds of years withstanding pressure and damage (even making it bullet proof). Due to the durability of hempcrete, it does not require any expansion joints.

MATERIAL INFORMATION for 300mm thick wall:
R-Value: 4.5 m²K/W
U-Value: 0.4 W/m²K
Sound reduction index: 44dB
µ-value: 2.8µ
Acoustic absorption: 0.85α

Views
Views

This home had a large emphasis on views both inside and out. The image to the left represents the views from different locations inside the home (represented by white dots). Using these points, we can calculate a number of different metrics that were then used to tweak the houses layout until the results were satisfactory. The equation to determine each metric is location in the bottom right of each of the following images.

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Visibility Area and Choice
Visibility Area and Choice

"Choice" is described as how likely a space is to be seen on the shortest route from all spaces (Hillier, 1987). The results perfectly match the natural flow of the home.

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Occlusivity
Occlusivity

"Occlusivity" is described as the relationship between movement and spaces in the building. i.e. the areas that are revealed through movement through the home (Benedikt, 1979). The darker spaces require the most movement from other spaces to be seen.

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Views
Views

This home had a large emphasis on views both inside and out. The image to the left represents the views from different locations inside the home (represented by white dots). Using these points, we can calculate a number of different metrics that were then used to tweak the houses layout until the results were satisfactory. The equation to determine each metric is location in the bottom right of each of the following images.

press to zoom
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