May 10, 2011
Where the three little pigs lived
Fairy tales give out a whole lot of misinformation. Waiting for a prince to rescue you is a stupid strategy. The big bad wolf has never attacked a person in Northern America. And a house made of straw? Well, it turns out that it’s a good thing, a smart ecological and economic choice.
The coolest part of my weekend visit to Gorgeous Town, besides getting to spend time with friends and their very cute one-year-old daughter, was getting to visit a nearby straw bale house.
Yes, that’s right. A house made of straw.
The frame of the house is made from thick wooden beams, but the walls are made of bales of straw tightly packed together and plastered with stucco. Building the house was a communal project; family and friends pitched in to help. The walls are so thick that the house remains cool in the summer months and can be easily heated in the winter with a wood stove. Solar panels provide the rest of the energy needed for the house: it’s off the grid.
I’d heard about straw bale houses from my students, who talk about what a smart choice they are. Straw is a renewable resource, readily available, and the houses can be built with unskilled labor. Straw bale walls make for incredible insulation.
A house built from straw bales can also, it turns out, be beautiful. Outside, a garden grew on the roof, green plants shooting up against the adobe walls. Inside, the thick walls made for lovely windows, with window seats and shelves. The edges were curved and rounded, smooth like a sand dune rather than sharp angles. I couldn’t help but think I was walking around inside a storybook.
Posted by jo(e)