Site Practice: 'We want to place our findings within a concrete housing task'
It is undeserved that hemplime is still hardly used in construction projects, because it lends itself very well to applications in the transition to climate-adaptive building. That's according to Anne Geenen and David Schmidt from architecture and design office Site Practice. To investigate the applicability of hemplime, Site Practice received support in the first and now second phases of the Fund's Open Call Fresh Perspectives #4.
27 January 2021
It all started with an interest in hemplime. The more Anne Geenen and David Schmidt learned about this material, the more it made sense for the architects to use it in housing projects, and the more surprised they were that the use of this material is still in its infancy. This environmentally friendly and energy-efficient building material has the potential to make housing more sustainable. They saw the Fresh Perspectives Open Call as an opportunity to investigate the applications of hemplime building on a larger scale in housing and to enter into a partnership with Dun Agro Hemp Group.
'In Dun Agro Hemp Group, we have found a very good partner for this research. As a producer, they know a great deal about hemplime, and they are the only ones working with this material on a large scale. The company started by growing industrial hemp, and from there the factory was born. A special aspect is that Dun Agro Hemp Group uses all elements of the plant in their production processes. We don't want any residual materials to go to waste, either. This is where we find each other,' says David Schmidt. 'At the same time, we complement each other. While we as architects are mainly concerned with the question of how to take the design further, their starting point is practical feasibility. So when we came up with the idea of using this material for an eight-storey building rather than a single-family house, we were immediately critically questioned by our collaboration partner.'
increase in scale
A specific aspect for the Fresh Perspectives Open Call is that the financial contribution is divided into two phases. The initial phase focuses on carrying out preliminary research, preparing for the project and fleshing out the collaboration. The second phase is intended for the elaboration, implementation and assessment of actual results. 'We found it important to first take the time to get to know our collaboration partner and to see their factory. In addition, we started collecting as much information as possible about the material, keeping an open mind. For instance, we have carried out historical research and created an archive of information about building with hemp. This demonstrates the versatility of the material,' says Anne Geenen. 'Only now, in the second phase, are we exploring the applications of the material. This makes the project a real challenge. Hemplime is a fairly unconventional material to work with in architecture. We don't want to work on mock-ups, but place our findings within a concrete housing task. It's a complex undertaking to really make that increase in scale and to get all those involved on board. The open call has given us the time and resources to focus on this challenge. And hopefully by showing that it can be done, we can bring about a turnaround in thinking about the large-scale use of sustainable building materials such as hemplime.'
In addition to The Hemp Project by Site Practice, the following six projects are also being supported after a successful initial phase in the second phase of the Open Call Fresh Perspectives #4:
• Encounter 8 – Joost van Wijmen and Leyden Academy
• Integrative Hout Werk Plaats – Robin Weidner and Reinaerde De Heygraeff, Woudenberg
• #YOUTOO? – Anne Ligtenberg, Mats Horbach and Blauwe Maan
• De kleinkijk academie – Sjaak Langenberg, Rosé de Beer and Disabled care organization Severinus
• De Naaikrans – De Feministische Handwerk Partij and Atria
• Māku – Ann.ID and Samenwerkende Spierfondsen, Yumen Bionics
In 2021, the Fund will start with a modified Open Call Fresh Perspectives. This is aimed at mid-career designers who want to deepen their practice in a longer trajectory in collaboration with one or more social partner(s). The trajectory focuses on a relevant social issue, to which a contribution is made by means of design research. The next Open Call Fresh Perspectives #5 will be published in the beginning of February in our newsletter. The deadline for submitting an application is Wednesday, 7 April 2021.