Catalonia, a region near Barcelona in Spain, recently legally approved marijuana growth for the use and distribution of medical cannabis or otherwise known as marijuana. This opened new ways for industrial architecture to embrace sustainability, environmental issues, and renewable energy. At the architecture design studio of Margot Krasojevic, she who had worked at Zaha Hadid Architects before going out on her own and her team embraced the challenge of designing a building for rural and urban agriculture and using carbon negative materials. The building for the cultivation of medical marijuana or medical cannabis comprises three stages of growth and is surrounded by hemp fields. Hemp is a similar plant and material as marijuana but without the THC levels needed for medical potency. It is an ideal ingredient for building materials, though. Margot and her team became interested in the plant and its compounds and did extensive research on its uses in construction. The material studies form hempcrete and hemp plastic are included in the Fisher Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania and at smart3 e.V. as part of The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research at Bauhaus. Hemp has been grown for thousands of years and has been used for building materials and in infrastructure almost as long. The plant grows quickly, is sustainable, and able to regulate humidity and temperature. When it is mixed with a lime-based binder, it becomes hempcrete that is stronger than concrete but remains breathable. It also absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. For the Spanish marijuana growth center, the hempcrete base material and main frame are grown on site as the building is surrounded by hemp plants. Within four months, the material is ready and usable. Hemp can also be used to produce hemp plastic. The bioplastic is biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable. It starts to biodegrade after 28 days and is completely waste-free and disappears completely after 30 months. Both materials were structurally applied to the project. The clients, who are at the forefront of agricultural growth, had been looking for a transportable, mobile marijuana greenhouse that was also sustainable. Taking advantage of the Catalan climate that is ideal to maintain temperatures, humidity, and favors air circulation, the 3.5 million Euro project is a remarkable primary structure. The three main areas for the three stages of marijuana growth comprise a cantilevered frame that is made of three compartments. They contain a retractable drip feed irrigation system that can be shifted in and out. Rainwater is filtered in containers and enriched with necessary nutrients that are fed to the seedlings to attain ph levels of 6.5 during the vegetative stage, flowering, and harvest. The deployable, inflatable primary structure provides a climate for growth. It is an ETFE membrane coated hemp plastic lined with filters that are intensified with solar-powered LEDs. It doesn’t cover the complete surface and allows for gaps for natural ventilation giving it flexibility and room to breathe and integrate with the environment and the plants. The entire project is mobile and once the vegetative stage is over and the flowering begins, it becomes an automatic feeding frame until the harvest. After that, the building moves to a new location. The project embraces environmental considerations, sustainability, and renewable energy ideas. It has been shortlisted for the 2018 LEAF awards.
More projects from Margo Krasojevic: Turbine Tidal Hotel in China.