Why Straw?

When we asked Peter for the rationale behind his decision to build with straw he gave so many reasons that his answer could not fit in the FAQ section of the site. His response was so compelling that we felt it warranted having it’s own page. So here is the man himself on straw bale building…

In brief there are several reasons, some of which are:

  • I want it built as much as possible with natural, local, sustainable materials which do as little damage to the environment as possible. I have had to be pragmatic here with many compromises from the ideal due to the tight budget and lack of time. For instance, one could have put on a thatched roof instead of a metal one. None the less the main materials are straw, wood, sand and clay taken from the farm.
  • It should be as pleasant and healthy to live in as possible. Important here is that it can ‘breath’, which mainly means that it can absorb and give off moisture and it does not use materials which give off toxic gases and smells, as many modern building materials do.
  • The building should be simple and comparatively easy to build in that it can be done with unskilled labour and volunteers without specific skills, such as brick laying etc. Therefore, I have also gone for a tin roof etc.
  • I think the design and ‘feel’ of a building is very important, such as the shape of the rooms. The modern homes and buildings we live in are dominated by squares and rectangles, which would be much better for us if this were not the case. Of course, bales are rectangles, and large bales even more strongly so, so it is challenging to not make it too dominant, which is why I have gone for a pentagon shaped house.
  • The building should be very energy efficient and cheap to run in the long term, not just to build. I expect it to be up to ‘Passive House’ standards.
  • By building a straw bale building with volunteers I am hoping to not only encapsulate the ethos of the farm and create a possible prototype for future farm buildings but do so on a very tight budget. We are attempting to complete it for £80,000.
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