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Watch Straw Bale Building in Action

9/4/2009 1:06:00 PM

Tags: straw bale building, natural building, video

I just ran across this interesting video about straw bale building posted over on Lloyd Kahn’s blog. It’s about the Builders without Borders Straw Bale Eco-house, which was constructed and exhibited in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2008.

The video shows many of the steps involved in the construction of this load-bearing straw bale house, including how they deal with the problem of too much moisture in the straw. Straw bale building enthusiasts and regular Mother Earth News readers may see a few familiar names, too. The members of the building team include Catherine Wanek and Bill and Athena Steen. Take a look!



Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .

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Post a comment below.


9/20/2009 2:18:48 PM
Great video! I would love to see more. Maybe a whole series of detailed info on this and other natural building. Thank you MoENews!

Suzanne Horvath
9/18/2009 12:53:38 PM
I want to know the cost of this type of building. And how do I find the best people to build something like this? I don't know the sq ft of the building in the video, but I could probably do with 2 of them connected by an enclosed courtyard. LOVE the new way of thinking about shelter. Wish it would gain more momentum quicker. There needs to be a co-op in certain sections of the country (SouthWest probably) where groups could get together and help each other build small structures. Sort of the idea of Habitat for Humanity, but people would be building their own with help and then going on to help one or two other sites for a certain period of time. The owner would make the decisions as to design etc, with helpers doing the basics. This would save a lot of money for folks on a tight budget, but would still give them a nice home.

Criss Kraus
9/14/2009 5:29:06 PM
My daughter's old boss from the Rio Grande Bio Park made a national magazine. It's a straw bale house. Tara spent a lot of time helping Chris and Jenny build the house featured. I helped a few times too. It's straw bale and I wanted some hands-on experience with it. They used a combination of New Mexico mud (yeah it has some clay in it but is mostly ground up granite), stucco and donated quickcrete. They also used reclaimed rebar for the straw bale stakes that kept the bales from toppling over or leaning. They also made some of their own adobe brick to use as a thermal mass wall in one of their rooms, the master bedroom I think. Plain mud with some loose straw can make a good mud patch even if the mud does not contain clay. It just needs to be the kind of mud/dirt that will compact and stay compact. Not good in a very wet environment.

9/5/2009 9:03:14 PM
Ah, man! They have clay to use. This soil I have is the anti-clay. Worse yet, I have no limestone in the area to make my own concrete. It another note, we found that if you don't put a layer concrete (or maybe clay plaster) all the way around the top of the third bale, the bales will want to fall over in the middle of a longer wall.

Dan Bossenbroek_1
9/4/2009 6:12:14 PM
Thanks for finding this video and sharing it with us!


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