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