By Simon Johanson, Sydney Morning Herald
TWO eco-friendly houses are rising from the ground in suburban Melbourne built from a plant normally associated with 1960s hippie heaven: hemp.
In an Australian-mainland first, the walls of the semi-detached homes in trendy inner-city Northcote will be made from the cannabis-based building product Hempcrete, pioneered by a Queensland company for its carbon-neutral properties.
The eight-star green rated homes are the inspiration of two medical practitioners, a father and daughter team who will live side by side with their three generations in the one construction.
Along with the hemp walls, the architect-designed homes will have a solid rammed-earth dividing wall, double-glazed windows, underground water tanks and grey-water recycling, as well as solar panels for electricity, hot water and hydronic heating.
Michelle Leadston and her father, Bill, bought the large block in Northcote three years ago intent on building two sustainable homes for their families to live in.
"I've always said I'm going to look after my parents when they get old," she said. "This was the most convenient option. The babysitter's next door. And it's not too close. There's a big wall in between."
Both families wanted to share a common backyard and other design features such as lower, child-friendly windows and intimate, internal courtyards, said Dorit Przyborowski of Steffen Welsch Architects.