Would You Live in a House of Straw?

Added on November 24th 2016

Would You Live in a House of Straw?

Or would you huff and puff at the idea?

OK – that’s the first and last Three Little Pigs joke here, because straw houses could be an answer to the UK’s demand for more homes. The UK’s brick shortage has got many househunters and architects thinking about a return to the days of straw-bale houses. New building techniques and technology mean these houses can be very flexible in design and have a very small carbon footprint.

Here are just a few of the advantages of building your house from straw.

It offers excellent insulation

This means your home will be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Straw has a very high R-value (the measure of insulation) and this value rises with the thickness of your bales.

It saves energy

You’ll use less energy for heating and air conditioning because of the R-value of the straw, so if you include solar power, thermal mass and double glazing into your design, you’re triply advantaged.

It’s natural

Straw bales aren’t made in a factory and they don’t feature dangerous compounds. They’re also more breathable than other building materials, even after being rendered and plastered.

Straw has low embodied energy

Straw is easy to produce and harvest; you might have to add road miles onto its carbon footprint if you live in the city, but this is nothing compared to the energy involved in making and transporting bricks.

It has a special feel to it

These houses feel different, according to their owners. Maybe it’s the increased breathability, or maybe the sound-dampening qualities, but they feel welcoming and comforting to occupants.

They can look special, too

Straw-built houses look very different to brick-built. The straw bales can be arranged in different ways, or even broken up and used in the same way as wattle-and-daub to create round walls or corners (as it were). You don’t have to go rustic or Hobbit, though – if you take the time to line up your bales and use very precise, smooth rendering, you can look sleek and modern rather than rough and ready.

You can have nooks, crannies and window seats

The thickness of the bales means you can build in storage spaces wherever you want. You can also build window seats thanks to the thickness of the walls.

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