Straw bale messing with Harry…

Finally we got chance to work with a great straw able builder, Harry. He has been building for a number of years and worked on the first straw bale  building at Sieban Linden called Stropolis. This was the building that showed to the German authorities the power of straw and convinced them to allow straw bale housing. It is also the building that inspired LCNC.

We, on the other hand, messed about with Harry. I dogged him with questions about design, technique  and style while he valiantly tried to show us all one straw bale technique. Load baring straw bales are not allow in Germany and for that reason all sorts of  wooden frames have been designed to incorporate straw infill. The ‘edge on edge’ method (my name for it), where you jam 2 bales into a space, required more strength than we had. This was further  hindered by my constant questioning of Harry and taking photos! But I have been waiting so long to meet Sieban straw bale builders!

So the day went something like this –

We were to fill the space without the cross beam with straw bales:

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We prepared the bales:

P1310100And we cut a bale into two smaller balesP1310107

We had to screw an upright to the outside of the space to stop the bales falling out .

P1310123Now for the fun bit! The bales,  slightly wider than the opening,  are placed edge to edge and forced into the opening and you have to push with all your strength! Or Harry does!

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:

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Then you compress the bales…. by jumping on them… and stamping on them.. We were good at that!

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and then… you do it again higher up!

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The space left above seemed it would never fit two more bales. But after compression… P1310176The bales fit in… not easily and Harry had to work hard to help us do it but… but they fit in.

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Release the tension and viola! You have a straw bale wall that you cannot get your hand into.

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Well done Harry! And us! I took all the photos. Very tiring

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