Classified as France’s first public building built out of biomaterials, the structure of Pierre Chevet sports centre stands tall in the town of Croissy-Beaubourg near Paris with the support of sustainable hempcrete blocks. Designed by Paris-based studio Lemoal Lemoal, the 380 sqm sports hall is the outcome of collective minds with an aim to experiment with innovative designs and sustainable implementations. The architecture and landscaping studio decided to take the public building as an opportunity to try and test the usage of hemp as a primary construction material.
Top: The structure of Pierre Chevet sports centre, made out of sustainable hempcrete blocks, is France’s first public building built out of biomaterials; Above: Hempcretes are made of hemp hurds, an agricultural material obtained from hemp stalk of plants, and are lighter than traditional concrete blocks.
The demand for hemp is on the rise considering its multi-qualities such as high thermal and acoustic performance and is fire-resistant to REI 30 standard. It also helps in reducing the thickness of the walls and facilities in creating spacious interiors. That said, this biomaterial also helps in reducing embodied carbon of a construction project. Manufactured by cement manufacturer Vicat, hempcretes are made of hemp hurds, an agricultural material obtained from hemp stalk of plants. Lighter than traditional concrete blocks, these hemp blocks are made from hemp fibres which are grown and assembled in France within 500 km of the construction site. This has helped in minimizing transportation emissions and has boosted the local economy.
The freed space allows for a maximum area for practicing sports and further allows large opening of two facades to the public space.
Comprising of exercise hall and changing rooms, the multi-purpose sports centre is nestled amid a set of public facilities such as school, dojo, multi-purpose hall and recreation centre. An amalgamation of hemp concrete blocks and a wooden frame forms the backbone of the building. The walls of the centre are infilled with hempcrete. To protect the hemp blocks, cement fibre panels have been designed.
White cladding skins the exterior of the building. For support, wooden, half-vaulted porticoes are adjoined to the hempcrete wall; thereby adding a column-free interior space. The freed space allows for a maximum area for practicing sports and further allows large opening of two facades to the public space. A layer of hemp plaster – which is majorly used across the interiors of the building to conceal the texture of the structure – holds the lower section of the walls. To bring out an acoustic appeal with blockwork, a few areas of the wall have been left untreated. Assembled dry, these blocks possess a natural interlocking system. This eliminates the use of mortar or adhesives or any additional insulation.
To bring out an acoustic appeal with blockwork, a few areas of the wall have been left untreated.
Aiming the future
When utilized in construction, hemp turns out to be a carbon sequestering material. Reportedly, according to Cambridge College researcher Darshil Shah, hemp is among the prime CO2 to biomass converters. He informs that hemp is more efficient than timber and it absorbs nearly 8-15 ton of CO2 per hectare of cultivation. Going forward, hemp will be one of the extra extensively used building materials in the near future.
Image courtesy: Elodie Dupuis