World's tallest hemp hotel set to open in South Africa
With 12 storeys, a breathtaking view of Cape Town's imposing Table Mountain and a minimal ecological footprint, the world's tallest building made with industrial hemp is soon to open its doors in South Africa.
Workers in central Cape Town are putting the finishing touches on the 54-room Hemp Hotel, which is due to be completed in June.
"Hempcrete" blocks derived from the cannabis plant have been used to fill the building's walls, supported by a concrete and cement structure.
Hemp bricks are becoming increasingly popular in the construction world thanks to their insulating, fire-resistant and climate-friendly properties.
Used notably in Europe for thermal renovation of existing buildings, the blocks are carbon negative -- meaning their production sucks more planet-warming gases out of the atmosphere than it puts in.
"The plant absorbs the carbon, it gets put into a block and is then stored into a building for 50 years or longer," explains Boshoff Muller, director of Afrimat Hemp, a subsidiary of South African construction group Afrimat, which produced the bricks for the hotel.
"What you see here is a whole bag full of carbon, quite literally," Muller says as he pats a bag of mulch at a brick factory on the outskirts of Cape Town, where hemp hurds, water and lime are mixed together to make the blocks.
The industrial hemp used for the Hemp Hotel had to be imported from Britain as South Africa banned local production up to last year, when the government started issuing cultivation permits.