Matthew Mead ’13 and Tyler Mauri ’13 have reached a major milestone in their design-focused start-up company, Hempitecture, which is pioneering the use of industrial hemp as a building material.
The two, who began the project with a Kickstarter campaign this May, have reached and surpassed their funding goal of $25,000, thanks to contributions of major architecture firms, family, friends and community members of Idaho’s Sun Valley, the location of the future building.
What was originally born as a concept for the HWS student entrepreneurship contest, The Pitch, quickly has become a fast-growing reality for the two and the residents of Sun Valley. With full funding, Mead and Mauri have started designing, drafting plans for and continuing research on their building, which is set to be constructed as part of Idaho Basecamp, a facility dedicated education, creative expression and the development of a sustainable relationship with nature. The project will be the first non-residential building made from industrial hemp.
“The different elements of the building will entail the different aspects of natural building,” says Mead.
Both Mauri and Mead plan to be on site throughout construction. Different components of the process will include utilizing reclaimed glass bottles for flooring, as well as shale rubble trench footing, a resource-efficient foundation type, and evacuated solar tubes to heat water. The industrial hemp to be used as building material has many properties that make it environmentally-friendly, such as its high insulate value and its quick-renewability.
“What excites me most about this project is the ability I’ve had to collaborate with so many different people, and hemp is a completely new material to me, too,” Mauri says.
In addition to piloting the sustainable building material, Mead and Mauri look forward to using the project to drive community engagement in Sun Valley. The building itself will be used to house public workshops on the natural building process and its benefits.
“We hope to teach people what natural building is in a place where they can see it come to life,” Mead says.
Mauri, who holds a B.A. in both architectural studies and studio art, recalls that many of the Colleges’ classes influenced his interest in sustainable development. In particular, his “History of Modern Landscaping” course helped him to learn that the “design of buildings must be in balance with the natural world.” In the fall of 2015, Mauri will be attending the University of Virginia’s Master of Architecture Program with a focus on sustainable design.
Mead, who majored in architectural studies with minors in environmental studies and studio art, credits the Colleges’ liberal arts curriculum with “opening his eyes to a wider array of interests.” In April 2013, Mead competed in the prestigious Global Student Entrepreneur Awards northeastern regional semi-finals, which were held at Villanova University. In addition, he also competed in the New York Business Plan Competition held at University of Albany.
HWS, which has continually been recognized as among the “greenest” colleges campuses, recently introduced a new minor in Sustainable Community Development (SCD). Established earlier this year, SCD is an interdisciplinary program that integrates curricular and experiential components in architectural studies, economics, environmental studies and sustainability.