A film director has built an off-grid, carbon-capturing farmhouse in Cambridgeshire using hemp grown in the surrounding fields.
Steve Baron – whose career highlights include music videos for Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and A-Ha’s Take On Me, as well as feature films like the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – teamed up with Practice Architecture to create his Margent Farm home made principally of hempcrete processed from the hemp farm’s first year’s fibre crop.
When Steve Baron took ownership of Margent Farm in 2016, the land, Situated in Cambridgeshire on a total of 53 acres, had been unattended for some years and overgrown with thistle and mayweed. Wanting to build a home on eco-friendly principles and with environmentally building materials grown on the farm itself, the film director decided to grow hemp on the farmland.
Hemp is a low-impact, carbon-capturing building material. To grow hemp, which is a fast-growing strain of the cannabis plant, in England requires special permission. Having been granted permission to grow hemp at Margent Farm, the first hemp seeds were planted on the farm in May 2017.
Practice Architecture, who designed the farmhouse and studio, saw the project as a chance to trial using hemp and pre-fabricated building techniques on a large scale. Working off-site with engineers and material specialists, the studio developed large panels made from hempcrete – a mixture of hemp and lime.
The farmhouse, which was a former barn, features a self-heating, open-plan glass room as well as bedrooms and living spaces.
The exterior walls of the buildings at Margent Farm are clad with corrugated hemp fibre rain sheets. The soft fibres are thermal compressed using a farm waste resin.
All the buildings are powered by a sustainable biomass boiler, domestic wind turbine and a subtle array of solar panels.
Images Credit: Practice Architecture/Oskar Proctor
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.