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The World’s tallest building made of hemp nears completion in Cape Town, South Africa

The ground-breaking 12-storey building at 84 Harrington Street in Cape Town, South Africa, is shaping up nicely as it appears to be nearing completion. The building, which will be home to around 50 apartments, is making history as the world’s first hemp skyscraper!

The new hotel has been built using hempcrete blocks and other hemp-related building materials. The original five-storey building was bought by Hemporium’s co-founder Duncan Parker in 2016, and the exciting project has been undertaken by hemp producer Hemporium in partnership with Afrimat Hemp and Wolf + Wolf Architects.

Once complete, it will house Hemporium’s flagship store and the Hemp Hotel.

Hempcrete blocks are made from the core of cannabis plants along with lime and a chemical binder mix, and are extremely environmentally friendly – being carbon negative and providing awesome insulation so that less air-conditioning and heating is required.

Hemp projects are taking off around the world, and it’s predicted that within five years it will be normal to use hempcrete (which is poured like typical concrete) or basic hemp blocks. According to the New York Times, whilst hemp blocks are more expensive than traditional building products, they save money in other ways, such as reducing the construction schedule by up to 30%.

Calling it the world’s “first hemp skyscraper”, the New York Times reported that “84 Harrington is already rising from the ground and, at 12 stories, will be the tallest structure in the world that incorporates largely hemp construction. Because of its load-bearing limitations, a traditional frame is still needed, but all of the walls are made from hemp blocks.”

Parker told the NYT that once supply issues are sorted, hemp will become a construction staple in South Africa. Wolf + Wolf Architects will next take on a housing development with 25,000 homes, made from hemp blocks.

By Jenni Baxter