biotique habitat - specialists in straw bale construction

What is construction with plant fibres?

It is building construction that uses all or partly materials which originate from plants;

  • timber
  • bamboo
  • cork
  • coco
  • cotton
  • planted (green) roof or wall, etc
  • canabis fibre
  • straw
  • flax
  • reeds
  • seaweed
  • which have mainly been used for the construction of walls and the roof.

    We find in traditional construction a number of examples;

  • infill between structural members, commonly timber using eg. straw and clay in various proportions (torchis in France, leichtlehmbau in Germany) for wall, floor and ceiling infill (insulation / thermal mass)

  • thatched roofs

  • planted/turf roofs and walls

  • timber framing and finishing

  • straw bale walls

  • insulation in locally available fibres, particles or batts, etc.

    What are the advantages of construction in plant fibres?

    They permit the development of buildings that are comfortable, respect the environment, and are aesthetically pleasing. Comfort by the thermal and acoustic qualities of the material, protecting the health of the residents, reliable and innovative by the flexibility of the structure. Respect of the environment by the choice of materials which are intergral with cycles of nature in renewable short term production, that does not imply a waste of resources. Aesthetically by the utilisation of a noble material of which each fragment posses an proper identity.

    What is a building constructed in straw bales?

    It is a building that uses a traditional technique (around 100 years old) which permits the construction of walls, which when rendered give a performance unequalled: super-insulant, a fire resistance of four hours, load bearing (or non load bearing) wall, a wall that breathes, is rapid and simple to build, parasismique, a flexible architectural form, and economical.

    Around 24 buildings in straw bale have been built in France. A straw bale building, Barril House, has been the winner of the 1994 Ecological Prize of the competition "Solar Houses, Houses of Today" sponsered by the French government Agency of the Environment & Energy Control (l'ADME) and the magazine Systems Solar (Systèmes Solaire).

    The Three Little Pigs - A well known yet misunderstood story* by Jean-Marie Haquette

    Once upon a time there were three little pigs who each built a house. The first little pig sang with a light heart. He loved all that was light and gay. He had no fear of freedom either, and his house was suited to him: it was the colour of the sun, and it was easy to build. It was made of straw.

    The second pig was a joyous little pig. He played a wooden flute and he built his house in this pretty way: by playing with wood. He had no fear of freedom either.

    Now, the third little pig was a serious pig. He was very afraid of freedom. "You don't play around with such a serious things." He built his house prison style, to resemble his stone heart: it was hard work, solid and put him into permanent debt...

    * Substitute freedom for wolf - thats the key!

    You who build, remember that whatever is eternal in you is not made of matter, but of light and spirit. You are free to build heavy, expensive and complicated, but you may also choose light, inexpensive and easy. The only thing to remember is that it will be a reflection of you. And after all, what do you want to reflect?

    [ Version Française | Home page | Brief History | French buildings | Association for construction in plant fibres (ACFV) | Biotique Habitat | Publications] : updated March 2000