Sophisticated Strawbale Structures

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The soft curves of a traditional straw bale houses are warm and inviting, but their “earthy ” appearance may not be for everyone.  Now there’s an alternative, more refined straw bale style.  California-based Architect Henry Siegel designed a sleek, modern weekend retreat (pictured here) utilizing the super insulative material.

Strawbale construction has been successfully used for centuries, and many of these durable structures are still standing today.  It certainly makes more sense to utilize this agricultural waste by-product than to burn it and pollute the air, as in the traditional method of disposal.

Straw-bale houses are indeed comprised of straw and are actually very dense and strong, even in earthquake territory. They can be built just about anywhere, except perhaps in areas of high humidity and excessive rain.  There are numerous advantages of straw-bale construction, including:   constructive use of a renewable resource, high energy efficiency and fire resistance, flexibility to be load-bearing or non-load bearing (as insulative infill), quick and fairly easy assembly, and of course aesthetics.

Typically, strawbale houses have 2′ thick walls and are situated on an east-west axis to capture passive solar energy from south-facing windows.  Thermal mass features are usually included as well.  Mr. Seigel’s 1200 square foot creation not only utilizes passive solar energy, but takes advantage of meadow views through two reverse shed dormers.  The house is actually divided into two sections so as to allow one to see just what this cool abode is constructed of.  This “dogtrot” space also promotes natural ventilation throughout the entire house without the use of a mechanical cooling system.

See photos and floor plans  here.

Tag(s): Energy, Green Building, Greening the Home, Reclaimed Materials


One Response to “Sophisticated Strawbale Structures”

  1. This Tiny House, a blog about small eco-friendly living on January 16th, 2011 5:22 pm

    […] Sophisticated Strawbale Structures (

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