By Jenny Hewett
Mar 16, 2021
“THERE IS NO BUILDING OR PAINTING I’ve ever seen that could compare to a sunrise or a forest,” says hemp tycoon Evgeny Skigin from his dreamy, green-gilt sustainable holiday home in the glamorous coastal town of Noosa in Australia’s Queensland.
But at A$14,285 a night, you’d expect the place, named Domic, to come pretty close—and you’d be right. With its ocean views, recessed design, shell-like architecture, green roofs, water storage and maximum-capacity-storage lithium batteries, this new solar-powered six-bedroom home on the fringe of Noosa National Park and next to the beach runs almost entirely off-grid. Despite the aforementioned litany of eco-cred, it’s hemp that blows them all away as Domic’s secret ingredient.
No surprise then that it’s a real high (wink wink) hopping out of the pad’s ocean-view sauna and into the five-degree ice bath (something Evgeny tells me he did religiously when he first moved in and there was nowhere to sit). With its cinema room, 10 bathrooms, pizza oven and outdoor heated spa, the house that hemp built is both more than livable and absurdly eco-friendly. Domic has already earned Hutchinson Builders, which constructed it, a number of accolades, including the coveted Master Builders Association Awards House of the Year in 2020.
Industrial hemp, the core of Evgeny’s business and this home, is found in many modern products, from clothing to coffee and cosmetics. But its uses in green design are perhaps less widely known. Built using hempcrete (see explanation below), the multi-million-dollar Sunshine Beach mansion will absorb carbon dioxide for years to come, with the aim that it will eventually become carbon negative.
And it joins a growing number of properties in Queensland, in particular, that are leading the earth-friendly cause Down Under. Last year, the Great Barrier Reef‘s award-winning Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort reached 100 percent sustainability and, in 2019, the Elysian Retreat in the Whitsundays became the Great Barrier Reef’s first 100-percent-solar-powered resort. While back on the mainland and not far from Domic, Mayan Farm in the Noosa hinterland has built two new environmentally friendly villas using rammed earth from the dam on its working farm.
Having grown up in Germany and studied in Australia, 37-year-old Evgeny has made a successful career out of sustainable agriculture. He owns a hemp prefabrication business in the Netherlands and so he had the panels imported to Australia to build the house.
Inspired stylistically by the land dwellings in the fictional town of Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings tales, Evgeny built all the non-structural walls of the house from hempcrete. “The rooms are rather large, but the curves give it that coziness so it doesn’t feel too vast,” he says. “I wanted to hide the building in nature as much as possible and reduce the impact that it has and potentially even improve on the land that I’m building on.” It’s a one-man biophilic bombshell, and we’re swooning.
Why is industrial hemp such an efficient crop?
“It’s a weed, so it doesn’t need any pesticides or herbicides and it requires very little water,” Evgeny says. “A lot of things were made out of hemp back in the day and it’s only recently been forgotten, because of cotton and synthetic fibers.”
What is hempcrete?
A concrete-style mixture that combines hurd (the inner core fibers from the hemp plant, also known as shives) with lime and water.
How can Domic become carbon negative?
“The interesting thing about hempcrete is that once it’s dried enough for installation into a house, it will keep drying and hardening over the years,” Evgeny says, “and this process also absorbs carbon dioxide for many years after installation.”
Domic rental from A$7,143 a night in low season, nicheholidaysnoosa.com/accommodations/domic/.