The world’s tallest building: 84 Harrington Street
A global first, 84 Harrington Street is officially the world’s tallest building (12 storeys high) constructed using hempcrete blocks and hemp building materials.
A partnership between two Cape Town-based companies, Hemporium and Afrimat Hemp, 84 Harrington Street is setting the benchmark for how to build a safe, carbon-neutral, multi-storey building using hemp blocks and hemp systems.
A next-level hemp construction project
“I bought 84 Harrington Street in 2016, with the idea being that it would become the flagship Hemporium store, a steak restaurant and house the Hemp Hotel, a place where people can experience living in a hemp-constructed space.
“We also believed that once licences for the commercialisation of hemp in South Africa were issued, having innovative examples of what can be achieved with hemp would assist with leading the way for the fledgling hemp industry in South Africa,” says Duncan Parker, founding partner and chief executive officer of Hemporium.
Previously, hemp houses built in South Africa used hempcrete. For a project of 84 Harrington Street’s scale, this was not feasible, and inspiration was taken from hemp blocks developed in Europe. The creation of hemp blocks is a viable way to commercialise hemp in the construction industry.
Increased global demand for bio-based construction
There is a massive increase in the global demand for bio-based construction, which is driven by the need for the reduction of CO₂ emissions. Hemp construction is considered a key component for CO₂ reduction in buildings.
The South African government has initiated a drive to create employment within the industrial hemp sector; therefore the timing to develop hempcrete-based construction materials is ideal.
“With this in mind, Hemporium naturally looked for strategic partners on this project, which we found in Wolf and Wolf Architects and Afrimat Hemp,” says Tony Budden, founding partner and director of Hemporium.
Wolf and Wolf Architects is a small practice specialising in contemporary and sustainable architecture; and is considered the pioneer of hemp construction in South Africa. They are passionate about pushing the envelope of hemp construction and have set a precedent that will aid in stimulating the new hemp industry in South Africa.
R&N Master Builders played a major role in the construction of this building as well as pioneering commercial biobased construction for the future. Having a reputable and skilful contractor like R&N made this project possible and showing that they are forward thinking and ahead of the pack when it comes to the construction sector.
Why use hemp?
The benefits of using hemp in a multi-storey building:
Hemp is 100% natural, CO₂ absorbing, energy-saving and durable.
The superior acoustic performance ensures privacy between units.
Vapour-permeability: The ability of hempcrete to easily absorb and release moisture assists with regulating the building’s internal humidity, thus maintaining healthy indoor air quality.
The lower density of the hemp blocks reduces the load of the walls on the foundations and therefore the cost of concrete.
Using hemp blocks reduces the CO₂ footprint of a building as well as its operational CO₂ footprint.
Afrimat, a mid-tier mining company, prides itself on having an innovative and entrepreneurial culture, always looking at global trends. A subsidiary, Afrimat Hemp, focuses on carbon-neutral construction and unlocking value in the industrial hemp sector.
Goal is to have hemp industry as a mainstream reality.