Shortly after developing the nation’s first hemp house on wheels, Coexist Build has launched the Traveler, a DIY cabin made from hempcrete. The 140-square-foot tiny house kit was created partly in response to the pandemic, says architect Anastasiya Konopatskaya, who founded Coexist Build with her husband, Drew Oberholtzer. "We were struggling to get our work done with two small children at home," he says. "We kept thinking-if only we could have a tiny office in the backyard."
"We call it the Traveler because it will travel to you, you can travel to it, or you travel within it, into your own healthy world," says the Coexist Build team.
Designed to last for generations, the Traveler cabins incorporate heavy timber joinery made by a master craftsman from Pennsylvania. The hempcrete insulation will naturally harden over time, while the exterior components require very little maintenance.
"We have spent 3 years building and designing with hempcrete, so it was only natural for us to combine our experience of building small homes with healthy, unconventional construction," Oberholtzer explains. "And so a ‘shelter with purpose’-a healthy, sustainable space for any need-was born."
In addition to their design practice, the husband-and-wife duo owns and operates a regenerative organic farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania, that doubles as a research and development lab for experimenting with healthy, plant-based building materials.
Coexist Build makes and sells prefabricated hempcrete blocks-called Coexist Hemp Blocks-which are available for bulk purchase from their website. The company produces up to 1,000 blocks a day in their eastern Pennsylvania facility.
Since the hemp industry in the US is still maturing, the couple imports raw materials from Europe with the hope of sourcing locally in the near future. The couple use mineral-based binders to manufacture cured hempcrete blocks in their own facility 10 miles from their farm. All timber used in the Traveler kit is sourced locally from FSC-certified forests and milled by local craftsmen.
"When hemp, lime, and water are combined, it creates an assembly that is mold, fire, and insect-resistant. It’s perfect for climates like ours in the Northeast, but also for humid places like Florida and dry ones like California," explain the couple.
The 140-square-foot Traveler kit can accommodate two queen-sized beds on the ground level, and it also has an additional sleeping area on the loft level.
The Traveler can be equipped with either hemp batt insulation or hemp block as infill.
"Hempcrete helps regulate temperature and moisture inside a space with minimum variation, thus minimizing heating/cooling costs during the colder and warmer seasons-it is estimated that you save about 40% in those costs," they say. "The plaster finish on the exterior and interior requires minimum maintenance in the long run, and in addition, hemp is a regenerative plant with a short growing cycle."
The hemp and wood used in the kit are free from formaldehyde, VOCs, and allergens. All other materials in the kit were carefully selected based on their environmental and health impact. "This is the first hemp-and wellness-based DIY kit on the market," say the couple.
The design for the Traveler takes cues from California modernism with an emphasis on indoor/outdoor living, natural materials, and a sense of warmth.
Pricing for the 140-square-foot Traveler kit house starts at $26,900. Each kit comes with an illustrated instruction manual along with labeled precut parts that are designed to be assembled by a team of two to four people in a few weekends. The only tools needed are an electric drill, a screw gun, and a mallet.
Officially launched on Earth Day 2021, the Traveler DIY kit is now available for preorder with a $500 deposit. Production will begin once a minimum of five preorders has been met.
Traveler diagram. Customers can choose different options for the exterior cladding, insulation, and interior cladding.
Traveler section and plan