Tuesday 8 November 2011

Grand Designs and The Hemp Gallery

As I am building and a fan of the show “Grand Designs” I felt compelled to go to the Grand Designs exhibition at Darling Harbour on the weekend of 21-23 October 2011. The building section of the show was quite useful, as was the advice section where you could speak to experts in various areas, but the kitchen and bathroom section was very ‘high end’ and well out of my modest budget.

However, hearing Kevin McCloud speak was a highlight; he is an engaging and thoughtful speaker. I listened to both his talks during the day, thankfully they were different. In his second talk he spoke briefly and showed a slide of a housing project his company HAB had undertaken at Swindon in the UK, involving the construction of a number of hemp masonry row houses. During question time at the conclusion of his presentation I asked why he had chosen hemp construction for the Swindon project. He gave an excellent explanation of the hemp construction process and the benefits of hemp building. In hindsight, I only wished I had recorded his response so I could share it with more people, but it was great to see hemp building being put out before the audience at the Grand Designs exhibition.

A further highlight was discovering “The Hemp Gallery” at their stall at the Grand Designs exhibition. Now that I am building with hemp I have become more aware of other hemp products and was excited to see hemp furnishing and curtaining fabrics, hemp floor rugs and hemp bed linen. The products showed the diversity of uses for hemp and were of high quality, gone are the days when hemp fabrics were rough and scratchy. I had the good fortune to speak to Ray and Beatrice who run The Hemp Gallery at Belrose, NSW, about hemp products, hemp building and my own hemp building project.

Ray asked if I had read Steve Allin’s “Building with Hemp” book. I had not as I had believed it was out of print. Ray had a spare copy and sent it to me. “Building with Hemp” goes through a lot of issues I had questions about like running electricity and water through hemp masonry walls, as well as having lots of pictures of different hemp construction methods and render finishes. Many thanks to Ray and Beatrice from The Hemp Gallery.

I have since become aware that “Building with Hemp” is still available from Steve Allin’swebsite. It has also started me thinking about other uses for hemp in my building.  I have started looking into hemp insulation for the roof. Such products are available from a number of sources in the UK, but I am not sure if they are available in Australia.  If anyone knows where hemp roof insulation is reasonably available in Australia send me an e-mail at culburrahemphouse@hotmail.com

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