What is straw bale construction?
Straw bale construction uses the renewable material of straw, in bale form to act as an infill material to timber frame structures or as a load bearing structure to buildings of no more than two storeys. The construction method is considered to have a low environmental impact and provide good thermal insulation properties. Although the use of straw is widespread in roof construction in the form of thatching, straw bales as a modern construction method are gaining in popularity.
The straw bale construction method is popular with self builders and the environmentally conscious. The straw bales produce a building with deep reveals and a quirky character.
Straw bale construction methods
- Load bearing wall material built on site
- Infill wall material within frame and faced walls
- Prefabricated cassettes packed with straw
Load bearing straw bale construction
Infill straw bale construction
Advantages and Limitations of straw bale construction
- Good insulation
- Sustainable material
- Low cost material
- Lightweight material
- Usually possible to source locally
- Adaptable to both in situ construction or prefabrication
- Good availability
- Can be used for Passivhaus projects
- Relatively low skilled construction
- Susceptible to moisture ingress, and decay, requires good detailing and planning during construction
- Wall thickness is deep
- Requires protection during construction
- Must be installed above damp proof course level
- Still relatively new to general market, so can be difficult to obtain mortgages or insurance
- Restricted design due to wall thickness, need to protect from water ingress, etc.
Examples of Straw Bale Construction Projects
SCL Straw Bale House – Jimmi Pianezzola Architetto
Wood and Straw Housing – NZI Architects