The common reed has always been used as construction material. Today these plants are particularly appreciated in green building for their properties. First and foremost, due to its natural origin: it grows spontaneously and requires no special care or treatments. All it needs are favourable climatic conditions. In addition, reeds can be composted once their life cycle is over.
The common reed is absolutely non-toxic. Throughout its different phases, from harvesting to final use, it is never harmful for the environment or for human health. Reeds are excellent acoustic and temperature insulators and are perfect to create internal and external layers, as they are not damaged by humidity. They also work very well as false ceilings or dividing walls. Finally, reeds are also hygroscopic and resistant to humidity and rot, to rodents and to mould.
Common reed panels finished with thermal plaster made of lime and hemp are ideal to create internal and external insulation, as they are not harmed by humidity and therefore the plaster will not swell or break.
The insulation can be applied on a reinforced cement structure and on its relative buffer, on brickwork or full bricks, rock or wood walls, at any height, in conformity with the requirements defined by construction standards and energy-saving legislation. The advantages that may motivate the use of this system, not very well-known but excellent for green building, are: its hygroscopic properties, resistance to rodents’ attacks and to mould, resistance to humidity and to rot, resistance to fire thanks to its high contents of silicic acid, and its perfect salubrity.
The common reed is one of Italy’s largest grasses. It is very diffuse in its spontaneous state: it can be found in marshy areas, around lakes, along rivers and canals in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Italy.
It is characterised by its thick submerged knotty rhizome, from which extraordinarily flexible stems emerge; these can grow up to 4 metres of height. Its leaves are lanceolate and pointy. Its inflorescence has the shape of a corn cob, about 40 cm long, with feathery, brownish, erect or hanging stalks; this adaptation promotes wind pollination, typical in most grasses.
Reeds used for construction purposes are harvested once already dried and are then bundled together with zinc-plated wire or nylon thread. The result is that the inner cavities remain intact and contain still air, perfect for thermal insulation.
The material in question is presented therefore as panels in various thicknesses and can be used as inner or outer insulation for buildings, within walls or wooden structures, such as false ceilings or even within inner dividing walls. Common reeds do not fear humidity and have a good thermal and acoustic behaviour. They can be considered the most bio-ecological material for insulation purposes.