Dehradun: A couple of architects built a spacious 5-room house in the Yamkeshwar block of the Pauri Garhwal district from “hemp concrete” – a mixture of parts of “bhang” or hemp plant, lime, wood, mud, water and other minerals – whatever can can be used as a green alternative to concrete.
Architect Namrata Kandwal, 30, who designed and built the house with her husband Gaurav Dixit, said this is the first time that hemp concrete has been used on a large scale to build a house in India. The technique is widespread in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Former Prime Minister of Uttarakhand, Trivendra Rawat, inaugurated the house, which extends over 800 square meters and was built for a price of Rs 30 lakh on Wednesday.
As part of its “all-green” message, the house also has 3 kilowatt solar panels on the roof and a 5,000 liter underground water collection system. The interiors are also equipped with environmentally friendly materials. The house was developed as a homestay and can also be experienced by tourists.
Kandwal said the building material uses agricultural waste, so it is both environmentally friendly and affordable. “Farmers in Uttarakhand burned hemp fiber after the seeds were extracted, but we sourced it from them and used about 3 tons of hemp to build this house,” she said.
Aside from being environmentally friendly, hempcrete has several other benefits, Kandwal added. “Hemp houses can absorb moisture and emit excess moisture without mold growing on the walls. Hemp concrete has excellent carbon absorption capacity and naturally purifies the air of the house, “the architect said, claiming that houses made of hemp can even absorb vibrations, reducing the effects of earthquakes and excessive rainfall that destroy life and property every year in the hill country.
Dixit, her husband, pointed out that there is evidence that hemp fiber is used in Ellora caves, which may have contributed to their longevity. “The Ellora Caves date from the 6th and 11th centuries AD. The fact that these caves have stood the test of time shows that the material they are made of has strong durability, ”he said.
Experts said that using hemp concrete would greatly reduce reliance on new building materials like earth, sand, etc. Avlokita Agrawal, Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture at IIT Roorkee, said: “India still has to provide 60% of the building materials, which will be needed by 2050, which means immense pressure on the new minerals used in concrete construction. Materials like hemp concrete will be of enormous use to relieve these natural resources. ”
Kandwal has now founded a start-up with her husband and brother to manufacture hemp concrete, with plans to replicate this construction technique all over Uttarakhand to ensure affordable housing, especially in rural areas.