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Natural Building Festival – or you too can build a house from clay and hemp

Today, houses of natural materials are not crudely assembled shacks with a dirt floor – they are astounding feats of architecture: energy-efficient, thoroughly modern, and compliant with the principles of circular economy.

Attendees of this year’s edition of the Natural Building Festival in Wrocław had the opportunity to learn everything about how such houses built, meet the people who live in them, as well as take part in workshops where they could touch materials such as natural plasters, timber, hemp and lime, and work with them with their own hands.

Three days of the Natural Building Festival

Three days of the Natural Building Festival (September 30th – October 2nd 2022) provided a sizeable dose of knowledge on how the construction industry can use solutions based on timber, clay and hemp. Moreover, attendees could also familiarize themselves with the increasingly popular global trend of practically applying the principles of circular economy.

As it transpires, modern commercial architecture intended for demanding users can successfully use woodwork, steel constructions and other load-bearing elements procured from demolished buildings. Lecturers presented spectacular examples of such cases from all over the world, including the reuse of the large steel construction of external stairs from the Orion office building in Zurich, which has been demolished after as little as 20 years. Other valuable materials can also be reused – including stone cladding which can be used as floor tiles, triple-pane windows which meet strict thermal insulation norms, and others.

Both the workshops and the entire practical part of the agenda focused on topics linked to the construction of residential buildings – including single-family homes – from natural materials, and the use of such materials in renovation. Guests could test these solutions in practice, as well as talk to producers of natural materials and the owners of houses built using natural materials and techniques.

Such a broad scope of topics addressed at the Festival – reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry by all available means: zero-emission materials, recycling, upcycling – stems from the fact that this year’s edition of the event was a part of a larger project, carried out by IOŚ-PIB (The Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute) and OSBN (Polish Natural Building Association).

The project entitled “Decarbonizing construction processes – introducing zero-carbon natural building materials, including timber, to circular economy in the construction sector”. It is financed with a sum of 744 951 euro by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as part of the EEA grants.  The aim of the project is to enable the development of the natural and timber building sector and the implementation of the principles of circular economy in the Polish construction sector. The EEA Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway towards a green, competitive and inclusive Europe.

(photos: own materials)