' the Woodlouse: Strawbale wrappaging


Monday, 1 August 2011

Strawbale wrappaging

By way of showing that wrapping a building in straw really is a viable and sensible option, below are photos of the strawbale wrap completed by Jakub Wihan (Kuba) in the Czech Republic.  The external appearance of roof and window details is likely to be different in our project, but the Czech build gives a good idea of what's possible.  Many thanks to Kuba for use of his photos.

The building before renovation

Wrap nearing completion.  Some of the ties used to clamp the bales to the wall are visible, along with the edges of the new boxes to accomodate windows/doors (photo by Jindra Sl├íma)

Triple glazing and clay plaster

The upstairs living space is designed for use in summer only, with less insulation than the main all-year-round living space downstairs.  To insulate the the ceiling of the main dwelling, new ceiling joists were put in to support thick layer of strawbale insulation:

Strawbales were then covered with compacted earth for thermal-mass heat storage and fire-profing.
The finished home, with dark wood flooring to capture heat from the sun.

Perhaps this is a good point to explain why we're using a designer from the Czech Republic and not someone more local.  Simply, I don't know anyone else with the specific architectural expertise in strawbale building and genuinely sustainable building techniques, who has actually wrapped a building in straw before.  Kuba has the knowledge and direct experience which is essential to help us do the best job possible.  He was trained in strawbale building techniques by Amazonails, who as the people responsible for bringing strawbale building to the UK have developed an incredibly effective system of building.  Their system is designed to provide very high standards of insulation, water-tightness, airtightness and breathability, but also to be a manageable system for self-builders to use - a winning combination. The excellent courses I've been on were all run by Amazonails, and everyone I've met who's been involved with them has been highly knowledgeable and also lovely.  Due to re-organisation they are unable to help us with our project at the moment, and in any case they would have consulted with Kuba about the wrap, so it makes sense for us to deal with him directly.  And he's very good.

At some point he will have to travel to the UK to help us with specific stages in the build and train up volunteers or run courses on our site.  There will be some associated carbon emissions related to this, but these will still be more than offset many times by the savings in CO2 use resulting from the energy-efficient home we will have created and our choice of low embodied energy materials throughout.

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