Experimental hempcrete Studio, Cabra

  • finished Cabra hempcrete studio
  • clearing the site
  • Ibstock kindly supplied remaindered bricks
  • the drainage stone and underslab venting arrangement
  • the studio's frame and shuttering
  • the wall were cast by light tamping between shutters
  • Hemp-lime crete featuring hurd & fibre from Hempire
  • Hemp-mag crete featuring twice milled hemp from Hempire
  • larsen trusses made up of lengths of the shuttering ply
  • burying humidity & temperature sensors in the hempcrete walls
  • airtightness tape to softwood framing
  • Heraklith board from Ty-Mawr in Wales framing opes
  • Marcus and Kate McCabe, directors of Hempire
  • hemp-mag on left, hemp-lime on right
  • hempcrete products supplied by Hempire
  • the rendered hempcrete studio
  • Leca-limecrete over Leca beads
  • natural hydraulic lime (NHL3.5) from Trad. Lime Company, prepared for floors
  • hydraulic lime on hemp-mag. floor
  • hemp-lime render base coat from Hempire
  • rendered hempcrete over salvaged mixed bricks
  • AthyECOslates and valley gutter
  • hemp-lime plaster from Hempire goes on
  • Joseph Little_Cabra hempcrete studio
  • organic colour additive added to hemp-lime plaster for sample panel
  • Keim magnesium paint goes on, note stainless steel downpipe


This expertimental project came about as a way of testing out a hemp-magnesium mix that Marcus McCabe of Hempire Building Materials Ltd had just formulated. Our task was to design a structure using not more than 16m3 of hemp-mag mix! We decided to make a building in which two differemt mixes and methodologies of construction could be tested and compared. Hemp-mag floor and walls on a structurally bearing hemp-mag floor to create a garden studio on one side, and hemp-lime walls and roof on rising walls on the other side (featuring foamglas thermal breaks), with a Leca-limcrete floor slab inside.

The shape of an assymetric butterfly wing roof came partly of a desire to express the different walls structures, partly from the primary limitation of hemp-mag we could use, and partly a need to stay under 4m to avoid need for Planning!

Remaindered bricks were used to create a plinth wall with 11 tons of drainage stone behind it. We wanted a non-barrier systems where natural capillary breaks, ventilation and breathable structure would prevent need for damp proof barriers.

The triple glazed door and windows are from Goran in Poland. The ventilation system in the studio is Lunos humidity-triggered ventilation (with a summer and winter cycle). The simple shelving are from Ikea and look great at very little cost. The ioriginaql chain drain has been repl;aced by a narrow stainless steel downpipe: chain drains can rust badly and only suit certain conditions!

The following firms kindly supported the project FOC. Besides the hemp-mag and hemp-lime, Hempire Building Materials Ltd also supplied the hemp-lime renders and plasters. Traditional Lime Company provided the hydraulic lime on the floors. Ty-Mawr in Wales supplied Heraklith boards which framed all openings (providing even surfaces to cast up against on one side and for attaching airtightness tapes on the other side). AthyECOslate supplied light-weight plastic tiles from recycled plastic. The stone floor tiles were remainders from my father-in-law's kitchen and beautifully laid by him. At various stages lots of wonderful people helped and we all learnt. Thank you.

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