[Strawbale] FW: Strawbale Digest, Vol 45, Issue 5

Callewier Lieven Lieven.Callewier at cronos...
Tue Aug 25 10:04:43 CEST 2009

a friend of mine is building his own impressive straw bale arch home. Pictures (and dutch explanation) can be found at : 
The building is not finished completely as yet, but he will get there. It took him 2 years of intensive preparation and calculation work. Not something to start hand over heels.
Lieven Callewier

Van: strawbale-bounces at amper....muni.cz [strawbale-bounces at amper....muni.cz] namens strawbale-request at amper....muni.cz [strawbale-request at amper....muni.cz]
Verzonden: maandag 24 augustus 2009 12:00
Aan: strawbale at amper....muni.cz
Onderwerp: Strawbale Digest, Vol 45, Issue 5

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re:  vaulted construction (RT)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 17:29:59 -0400
From: RT <ArchiLogic at yahoo...>
Subject: Re: [Strawbale] vaulted construction
To: "Euro BaleHeads" <strawbale at amper....muni.cz>
Cc: SB Yahoos <sb-r-us at yahoogroups...>, SB REPP
        <Strawbale at listserv....org>
Message-ID: <op.uy4wn9ea4f5a3n at edg-gfhtccer7qm>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; delsp=yes;

On Fri, 21 Aug 2009 15:29:19 -0400, <espacone at unich...> wrote:

> Mark Asheim in California did some seismic tests years ago. He had to
> build a vault for a private house. He is a professor somewhere in
> California.

>>   donald mchardy wrote:

>>>   I'm looking for some info on vaulted SB contruction.  I have some
>>>   experience in "conventional" SB (small, load-bearing) but would like
>>>   to learn something of vaulted construction (no "roof"?).

Perhaps the most useful bit of information about vaulted SBC that one
should have under one's belt is that the two California houses built in
this configuration back in the early days ... both required extended time
frames and over-sized budgets to complete.

One of the major "challenges" that must be addressed is the fact that
straw bales are not really a material that is suited to creating a pure
compression structure.

While it is true that bales do have sufficient compression resistance for
the axial loads to which a residential-scale wall is subjected in most
situations, the difference between a vault and a wall is that there really
isn't a point where bales will stop compressing in a vault configuration
and since bales are not uniform from one bale to the next, the vault will
not simply tighten-up as in a vault made using masonry materials. Sudden
collapse of the vault will occur when weakest bale is distorted to the
point where it folds in on itself, subsequently opening up on the bottom.

The early California vaults addressed this issue by using steel rebar to
create what was essentially an exoskeleton.  One of them experienced a SB
fire as a result of trying to weld the rebar exoskelton. (Later, YakWoman
(aka Keller Lerner) substituted bamboo for the steel).

Another major challenge that needs to be addressed is that vaults are "all

Simply plastering the bale vault and applying some coating to the plaster
is not going to provide the weather resistance necessary to keep the straw
dry and rot-free.

Pre-formed metal roofing (about the only real viable option (while
acknowledging the existence of things like Kevlar membranes) will in most
cases (ie unless custom formed) need to be laboriously clad with smaller
and quite likely, site-formed, custom-made pieces if the curvature of the
vault is anything beyond "gentle".

I would venture that the most prudent approach to SB vault construction
would be to construct a fully-clad roof structure first and then build the
bale vault underneath, utilising the structure of the over-roof to provide
support (where necessary) for the bales.

The engineer (David Mar ?) for one of the California SB vaults (and who
was given an eng assoc award by his peers for his design/analysis work
that went into the SB vault) did a write-up for The Last Straw back then
and it should be available from TLS. It may even be available on the
contractor/builder's (Skillful Means) website.

=== * ===
Rob Tom
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
< A r c h i L o g i c  at  ChaffY a h o o  dot  C a >
(manually winnow the chaff from my edress in your reply)
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