Our designer, friend and hempcrete expert extraordinaire.
I have been in the custom design/build field for some time, spanning a number of disciplines; timber frames in the 1970’s, custom cruising sailboats in the 1980’s & 90’s, and numerous custom residences. Everything changed with the Nauhaus Prototype, inspired by conversations with my partner Clarke Snell, where I was the lead Design Engineer. The Nauhaus Prototype was a multi-discipline project in green building construction, which included “hempcrete” walls.
One of the most important aspects of a successful custom design, is honest and clear communication between myself and the client, and a commitment to work through issues both technical and interpersonal. As a designer, my job is to help bring another persons dream into being- given the time, energy and money typically required to this, it is not something to be taken lightly.
Barbara Massey and I first met on a rainy day during a hempcrete workshop I was giving at another home that I had designed in Asheville. When she asked me if I might be interested in working with her, I said I would be happy to talk with her, but did not really expect anything to come of it.
Some time after that, Barbara first approached me about her Apeldoorn project, and when she described what her goals were, I was both excited and intrigued.
Like Barbara, I am of Irish ancestry and have been drawn to the simplicity of old-world rural architecture since I was a child; to have someone ask me to design a house that I had always wanted to build was a real gift.
It took us some time between our first meeting and actually beginning the design to cover all of the preliminary tasks necessary in a construction project.
We spent many hours looking at her property, the photos that she had collected and dealing with the many regulations and permitting issues that need to be addressed.
We still joke about my initial response about designing a very specific home around an inventory of antiques, but in the end I am glad that we took that route, as it was all design work that needed to be done in any case.
Having worked in Western North Carolina for over 30 years, I have looked at a LOT of properties.
The first time that I saw what would become Apeldoorn, I felt like I was looking at land that had been inhabited for over a century as Barbara had already spent many years clearing the property and establishing new plantings.
Although it can be employed in a broad array of architectural styles, I have always appreciated the ease with which hempcrete can lean towards an Old World aesthetic.
Any aesthetic similarities are strictly skin-deep however, as the unique properties of this material create and maintain an indoor environment that is very different from its old world cousins.
While many people are tempted to focus on the use of hempcrete in a building, I like to emphasize that it is only one of many building components that have to work together efficiently for a successful build: the long-term success of any project is dependent on the balanced interactions of all of it elements.
Some of the essential elements of Apeldoorn are a fully isolated slab that acts as a thermal flywheel, very efficient window glazing & a highly insulated conditioned attic; in conjunction with the hempcrete wall systems and numerous other unseen details, the result is a highly efficient structure that has exceptional indoor comfort and air quality.
I hope that you enjoy your stay!