First and foremost, it is my honour and pleasure to be appointed as the new Editor of +Impact magazine. I know I have big shoes to fill following Mary Anne Constable, and I look forward to continuing to provide engaging content for our esteemed readers.

I am excited that this edition showcases two particularly strong sustainable methods of yore making waves again in building, design and construction, that being timber and hemp.

Besides the fact we all know that timber has been used as a building material for centuries, one of the biggest advantages of using wood as a building material is that it is a natural resource. This makes it readily available and economically feasible. Timber is also a perfect example of an environmentally sustainable product, because it is bio-degradable, renewable, and carbon positive when used in construction. Of course, wood sequesters carbon and requires no high-carbon emitting fossil fuels to produce it (unlike other common building materials like bricks, steel or plastic).

In this edition, David Elliot, Founder of the Mass Timber Focus Group explains how timber is enjoying disruptive growth across the world, as an increasing number of design professionals are choosing this renewable and time-honoured technology over concrete or steel.

Then there is the rise and rise of hemp as another environmentally sustainable building option. Is building with hemp a new phenomenon? It hardly seems likely that human civilizations would have cultivated the plant for millennia for such a wide range of uses without using it in their buildings. It is unlikely, however, that physical evidence of any such use in ancient times would survive, since plant-based building materials will of course eventually decay, returning to the soil from whence they came. The same applies to timber. After all, that is one aspect of the very reason that we are interested in them today: low-impact building materials that will allow us to house ourselves ‘lightly’, without leaving behind us a legacy of adverse effects on the environment.

In this edition, we chat with Wolf from Wolf & Wolf Architects on how and why hemp is the future of sustainable housing and that it has the potential to create a whole new industry and job pool, which is particularly relevant in our South African context.

We are also proud to feature all the awarded and commended projects of the sixth AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Awards that were announced recently at a virtual awards ceremony, recognising some of Africa’s leading lights in the sustainable African architectural and design innovation space. Congratulations to all the winners!

So until next time, stay safe and sound in these trying Covid times and batten down the hatches for the last of the cold weather before we welcome the sun back to our shores.

Enjoy this edition and for any future ideas or comments please feel free to email me on

Robbie Stammers