Karhlyle Fletcher   |   April 11, 2022

A Cannabis Castle Offers a New Era for Hemp

Châteaus, or castles, have housed prominent individuals and influential movements, from royalty to art salons… and now, hemp manufacturing.
Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

One forward-thinking couple in France has decided to convert their ancestral estate into a home for cannabis to thrive.

Redefining Aristocratic Properties with Hemp-Inspired Creativity

For years, Victoire de Pourtalès and Benjamin Eymère, a couple who own 1,530 Le Marais, have housed artists on a dreamy, picturesque property with a lavish castle nestled in a lush region of France, an hour south of Paris. The inaugural art piece shown at the château was Phtyocene, created by Agoria, Nicolas Becker, and Nicolas Desprat. These two musicians and biophysicists created Phytocene by visualizing how hemp planted at 1,530 Le Marais communicates among itself. The group converted data collected by probes into an audiovisual artform projected onto the wall of an old granary at the estate, poetically foretelling of a bright future for the space.

The aims of the château have become intertwined with hemp grown on the estate. While the property has been in Victoire de Pourtalès's family for generations, she now aims to bring hemp into the limelight. Rather than simply cashing in on the trend of growing hemp, the couple of Victoire de Pourtalès and Benjamin Eymère do not aim to sell their harvests but instead process their crops into usable materials. The property already has projects using hemp as a building material but will include textile, yarn, and natural oil manufacturing in the future.

Having hired architect Kulapat Yantrasast, 1,530 Le Marais is on its way to having a space meant to host artistic and cultural events. Yantrasast founded wHY in 2003, a multidisciplinary design firm. Their first significant achievement was designing Grand Rapids, Michigan's art museum, completed in 2007 - the first art museum in the world to receive a LEED certification. Since then, the team has designed buildings for Harvard and the Art Institute of Chicago.

For building materials at the château, the team will use wood and greencrete, a form of hempcrete. Yantrasast highlights greencrete's porous attribute as an exciting feature, as it is superior to concrete in absorbing both heat and sound. Additionally, while concrete is nonrecyclable and thus a burden on the environment, greencrete is, well, green and thus a desirable alternative.

High-End Airbnb, Manufacturing Hub, or Artistic Retreat?

In addition to the hosting space, Yantrasast is working on a dozen houses for the property. This network of homes will form a small village meant to house a wide variety of creatives from the community for overnight stays. As Benjamin Eymère says, more artists are starting to work with engineers and scientists. It's more than likely that the world will see more projects similar to Phytocene from this property. 

There's little to limit 1,530 Le Marais's ability to produce, as they have already partnered with small-scale manufacturers from the surrounding areas. Already Phytocene is available as an NFT, proving the trendy and forward-thinking nature of the efforts on the châteaus. Something a little more classic, the couple hopes to offer an artisanal gin soon, brewed from the hemp grown on the property.

Data reporting is central to the projects by the couple. First off, through blockchain technology, Eymère promises full traceability from seed to sale of their products, whether that's their greencrete or coming gin. Additionally, the couple offers the data collected from their fields to other neighboring farms so that they may learn about the local soil and how crops are fairing in the local environment. By being open with their data, Victoire de Pourtalès and Benjamin Eymère may empower a new generation of hemp production in their region of France.

The Importance of Showcase Projects and Art Salons

In the early 19th century 1,530 Le Marais hosted literary salons featuring such guests as François-René de Chateaubriand. Such spaces are instrumental in the development of culture both locally and globally. From the revolutions of France and America to the development of modern technology, gatherings of creatives have driven the world forward. Converting this historical location into a space to drive hemp innovation is a possible solution to the plateaus that the hemp industry regularly finds itself facing. Additionally, it may solve the problems many aristocratic families run into by attempting to maintain their lavish properties.

Since Henry Ford and before, the potential for hemp-based technology has been apparent. However, modern manufacturing blindspots and access to processing have kept the industry back. Showing streamlined and successful models in a closed environment could show the rest of the world a successful model that could be globalized, like how the auto industry arose from Detroit.

1,530 Le Marais may prove to be one of those innovation hotspots that links art, engineering, and industrialization to make massive changes in the industry. All it takes is a few victories, after which good ideas can spread exponentially throughout the world. With skill, funding, space, and a healthy dose of luck, Victoire de Pourtalès and Benjamin Eymère may usher in a new era of accessibility in hemp manufacturing.

 

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