[Strawbale] prefab strawbale (MR)

Mark Harrison mark at harrisonembrey...
Thu Sep 17 20:04:39 CEST 2009

Hello all,

I know of several buildings using large 200-250kg straw bales. Locations where cost per square foot/meter of land is incredibly low, they may be useful in that they are a very common format for bulk handling fibre but they are also over engineered and not without there problems.

Here is a link to Huff and Puff, the Australian SB organisation and their offer as one example.


All the normal conditions are required in the specification of these bales, bulk density, moisture, mould, weed seeds, foreign matter etc and if this is done then the raw material is viable.

For specific buildings (where land is cheap) that require hyper-insulation to control the internal climate (frozen food or chill storage, wine store, recording studio, sports halls) then jumbo bales may potentially have a place.

In high rainfall/humidity areas procuring jumbo bales dry <18% free moisture, keeping them dry throughout the supply chain is an absolute must to quality control the build against all the normal risks. Common sense stuff really! Being professional and being able to giving gurantees that are certificated by an independent agency depends on this and is the route we are taking.

Here is a refurbished livestock barn, rezoned for office accomodation that uses big bales, it was designed by White Design, creators of the Modcell concept.


The sound insulation quality of this build is exceptional but as the building was a steel frame the thermal bridging issues need professional building design and materials, as this was a project for the farmer client in this case was they were more than receptive to the use of jumbo bales (they have them on farm and the kit to handle them) and the planners required them to keep the livestock building too so they were looking for a low cost solution!

I would be very interested in knowing of anyone who is interested or whom would be interested in working on developing a pan-european or even global specification for construction grade fibre as a hybrid open source project.



  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Michel Rosenberg 
  To: strawbale at amper....muni.cz 
  Cc: max at permalot... ; mark at harrisonembrey... ; ArchiLogic at yahoo... 
  Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 12:27 PM
  Subject: Re: [Strawbale] prefab strawbale (MR)

  Dear Rob Tom,
  Dear Max Vittrup Jensen,
  Dear Mark,

  Interesting topic.

  I think you're all a bit right about this. There is a market for prefab applications, but there also remains a need (and a better solution/technique) for the self builder.
  In our region most of the people don't have time to build their houses themselves, and are in need for a short and effective building process. (but on the other hand the prefab market is still small)
  On the other hand I know some people interrupting their jobs for 1 year or more to build their house themselves.

  I personally think that prefabricated panels (like in Austria for ex.) can guarantee a more professional approach to the building process. Air tightness for example is a big problem with selfbuiling constructions.
  Also the timeframe (we live in a wet climate) is important. Although most people over here first (let) construct the roof and staple the bales under the roof (but the walls are still getting wet sometimes).

  On the other hand I'm also a believer in the big bales building technique like Max said.
  It's quick, stable, and you're not in need for a lot of wood. In fact it seems to be the optimised sef-building technique fort semi-self builders (you're in need for some machines).

  In Belgium we have a few loadbearing examples, build be architect Herwig Van Soom (www.nebraska.be), but these seems to be build only with small bales.
  I wonder why I haven't seen many more big bale projects like these of Werner Schmidt (www.atelierwernerschmidt.ch) over Europe (and the rest of the world)

  Are these big bales more risky towards moisture, fire, density, other problems??

  I looked into some research projects of Grat (S-house Austria) concerning moisture, fire and other problems... but these were only related to small bales.
  Why is that? Do you know of any research projects concerning big bales?

  Best regards

  Arch. Michel Rosenberg

  michel_rosenberg at yahoo...

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