Lime hemp and bio-bricks: from Trulli to modern era

Recently, discussions about green building are increasing, the branch of architecture that aims to build palaces with capacity of limiting the impact on the environment. Have been discovered many natural materials that can be used in architecture, but in this article I will analyze in detail the use of hemp in construction.

The main property of this natural material is hygroscopic (ability to absorb large amounts of water and water vapor), important functional feature in construction because it entails a considerable reduction in humidity in the environment in which we live, surely contributing to the improvement of the comfort .

Trulli di Alberobello, Close-up Engineering - Credits:

Hemp combined with lime, shape the mixture defined lime hemp. The combination of these two materials allows the creation of what are called “bio-briks” that are widely used in building. They are used to create external infill walls, insulate existing walls and internal partition walls, capable of ensuring a great sound insulation, thanks to sound absorption feature of this product (characteristic of a material to absorb the sound energy).

This material also has an excellent thermal insulator, which facilitates the elimination of thermal bridges, and the achievement of high levels of energy certificates; also has fire retardant properties (ability of the material to which its combustion is very low or very late) and its high breathability, improved ventilation of the house, keeping the house cool in summer and warm in winter, preventing the formation of mold.

Even on the duration of the material there is no doubt, in fact, lime hemp has a very long life: lime mineralizes hemp, making it durable and resistant. Finally, the re-use of this material does not involve complex and expensive processes: once exposed to a process of disintegration, it can be reused as raw  primary or secondary product.

The use of this material has been rather a re-discovery in the world of construction, because the use of hemp for the purpose of construction dates back to ancient times, just think that in “De Re Aedificatoria” by Leon Battista Alberti, is highlighted how this material, added to the mortar, it would improve the quality. Another more recent example, is the use in the renovation of “Trulli”, typical houses of the Itria Valley (Apulia). The choice of this material lies in wanting to maintain consistency with the structural and functional characteristics of these houses, as in the past the lime was used to build them.

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