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This New Mud Home Built of Hemp and Earth Demonstrates Super Energy Efficiency in the UK

•, By Andy Corbley

Architect Anthony Hudson used a centuries-old construction method to build the bungalow, yet it still complies with modern building regulations.

Its walls, erected in Fakenham, Norfolk, are constructed from three simple ingredients: hemp straw, earth, and water. When mixed together, it is known as 'cob', so the project was named the CobBauge.

Walls built with cob is thermally insulated to modern standards.

The 3-bedroom project by Hudson Architects was built by local builders Grocott and Murfit in January, and the team has characterized it as being quite inexpensive (although the total cost was not revealed).

Mud is one of the most sustainable construction materials with some old cob buildings in Britain lasting more than 500 years.

The new house features large, south-facing triple-glazed windows for solar warmth in the winter and an air source heat pump to provide additional heating.

It's part of an EU-funded project to bring mud construction into the 21st century with a focus on net-zero carbon construction—and this is their first regulations-complaint cob building.

After the EU announced it was looking for architects to come up with new ways of using earth in houses, Mr. Hudson leapt at the opportunity.

"The challenge was to create a home using earth as the primary building material, but which could also be thermally insulated," said the 68-year-old.

"Earth is a very sustainable way to build, especially because it's so widely available here in the UK.

Although there is still a way to go before mud houses can be put on the mainstream market, Hudson believes that the homes will become the new normal.

"Although the materials are cheap and easy to source, the building method is very time-consuming. At the moment it all has to be done by hand, so labor costs run high."