How did you first get into architecture?
I decided to build my first house as a project at age 23. It took 2 years and again, I hand did every detail, it was a massive learning curve. From there the projects just rolled on. I did my time in a few architectural practices, and now I work with a great crew that is focused on sustainability and building biology.
Do you focus on sustainability in most of your other projects?
I like try to, but it’s not always possible, especially when budgets are tight. It seems almost a privilege these days, just like eating organic, when it should be just through necessity. Take developing countries for example, they are resourceful and utilize free or cheap materials. Our bureaucracies however, don’t exactly promote free thinking, or the right for any person to have shelter from the rain and cold. So for me sustainability has to cover all areas of building, especially financial.
We have been concentrating on hempcrete homes, using chopped up hemp stalk, which can even be grown and harvested from the site. It’s mixed with a binder and then packed into formwork a bit like concrete. Again, old school, it’s been around for hundreds of years. So its organic, biodegradable, sustainable — all the ables pretty much, mould and termite resistant too.
What are some other projects you’ve been working on lately?
An interesting round house. It was originally a round concrete water tank and got an extension in the late 80’s. I’m working on its third life by doubling it in size. It’s been challenging working with so many curves, but the end result will be a much more usable and efficient family friendly house.