A few weeks ago, it was this time of the year when Imperial College students arrive at the National Construction College in North Norfolk for the now annual Constructionarium. Students from a dozen universities from all over the country having completed the exercise since the beginning of the year, the site was scattered with bridges, stadia, towers etc. Singular Lilliputian urbanism to which we added 3 projects.The 2009 Edition saw two of the usual suspects being built: the Naples airport interchange, a small-scale version of an actual project by Expedition Engineering, and the mini-Gherkin : a mini-London icon hanging in wild Norfolk.
The third project is a newcomer and for the second year in a row, new is green at the Constructionarium: following on the rammed earth project experience, the 2009 new project is a circular hempcrete tower. This 3.5m diameter, 5.2m high timber structure has been designed from scratch by David W. and Ben G. Its main feature is its cladding material: hempcrete. Latest in eco-chic in the UK according to David W, .hempcrete is a mixture of hemp shiv and lime with pretty good environmental properties. Although a little suspicious about it at first, the students happily worked their way through it.
Once again the students have proved themselves very good, finishing their projects on time and budget, and if clearly better at solving 3 dimensional differential equations of 21 unknowns than at getting nails in plywood at the beginning of the week, by Friday, anything from concrete pouring to shuttering hempcrete was no longer a mystery.