Having charted the construction of the timber frame, I returned to this Exmoor straw house build in Autumn 2018 to follow the installation of the bales.
A rare opportunity
This is an assisted self build; Hawkland Ecological Construction are guiding the project. And it is rare, being on a green field site in a national park. The fact the clients work locally helped to gain them planning permission. Nonetheless, the planners stipulated a low-impact single story design, hidden under a green roof.
The straw in this house is non-structural: the roof is supported by a timber frame, rather than the bales. All the same, the straw is tightly compressed into the frame. As seen in the time lapse below, trucker straps were used to compress the first six courses of bales, to make it possible to insert the final layer.
The next major steps will take place in Spring 2019. The internal and external surfaces will be rendered with a lime-clay mix; windows and services will be installed.
A house of our times
As the house takes shape, it is already clear how well it sits within the landscape, even before completion of the green roof.
Furthermore, with an emphasis on low embodied carbon materials, this is low impact not only in visual terms. The tyres in the foundations are recycled, the larch for the veranda was locally sourced from Dart Valley Timber, and the straw is from a nearby farm.
The connection between people, home and landscape is further emphasised by the veranda, that runs the full length of the entrance front. This sheltered outdoor living space will make it easier to spend time in contact with the surroundings. In times of climate change and biodiversity loss, people need to be more conscious of the natural world on which we depend.
As rustic as it may seem, this home represents what cutting edge architecture needs to be: low carbon in construction and in use, and in harmony with the natural environment. I look forward to returning to see the next stages.