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Re: GSBN: re Ecohouse



Marty,

I would recommend an exception to a couple of the exceptions you list to
the three prohibitions.  If the bales are laid on edge, then the exceptions
should not apply.
A very unofficial fire demonstration that we did while building my house
was to put a propane flame to the edge of a bale for about five minutes.
It left a small charred spot but wouldn't burn the bale.  Then we turned
the bale on edge and did the same thing to the face of the bale.  One of
the strings burned through and the bale opened up.  It immediately caught
fire, popped the other two strings and before you could say "fire
department" the flames were about the height of a one story building.   The
moral of the story is that the ends and sides(where the strings run) should
never be left exposed to potential fire hazards - even "truth windows of a
limited size."

Nehemiah Stone
stoneandstraw@...



> [Original Message]
> From: Martin Hammer mfhammer@...
> To: GSBN GSBN@...
> Date: 1/17/2007 5:59:00 PM
> Subject: Re: GSBN: re Ecohouse
>
> I'll jump into this discussion on Rene's comments.  Lot's of interesting
> points made by everyone (of course that's usually the case with the GSBN).
>
> A few things:
>
> I agree it's the wood framed roof that is most vulnerable in terms of a
> substantial fire starting if an unplastered straw bale wall ignites on its
> surface.  So in the situation Nehemiah described at the County Fair with
no
> roof on the wall - no problem.  But for the situations that others
mentioned
> when there was a roof - often a big problem.
>
> I've had misgivings myself about the building shown on the cover of Gernot
> Minke's book for the reasons others described (although there are things I
> like about it as well).  I'm mostly concerned with the issue of fire, and
I
> suspect that even if the space between the corrugated polycarbonate and
the
> straw bales were NOT ventilated, there would still be a fire risk to the
> roof because there is enough oxygen in the cavity to support enough fire
to
> climb the wall and ignite the roof.
>
> In this context, I'm glad Jakub Wihan mentioned the building in the Czech
> Republic with exposed bales wrapping 3 sides of the house (the 4th side is
> glass doors and windows for passive solar). See my chapter in Bruce King's
> new book or the main article in TLS #54 for a picture of this stunning,
> award winning, and adventurous building.  We've all thought at some time
> during the construction of a straw bale building that it's a shame to
cover
> up the visually, and acoustically wonderful surface of the bale walls.
Well
> SEA Architects did it in a big way, and on the EXTERIOR.  The bales are
> non-structural and are there for insulation and for the fuzzy mind-blowing
> visual effect, but I believe it was in their own minds a bit of an
> experiment, and if it fails (due to weather, rodents, or fire?) they could
> be "easily" replaced and presumably plastered.
>
> As happy as I am that they did this, I think it's a bad idea, and
shouldn't
> be allowed by any responsible straw bale code.  (Although I'll reserve
final
> judgment until I see it perform over a longer period of time)
>
> Rene Dalmeijer also brought up the long standing issue of parapets (or
maybe
> not-so-long standing if they fail and need to be replaced).
>
> In my most recent straw bale code draft I have addressed two of the above
> issues and am considering addressing the third.  I'm very interested in
the
> opinions of GSBNers.  My current and imminent positions are as follows,
but
> feel free to comment or to flat out disagree.  In reverse order of the
> above:
>
> 1. Straw bale parapets:  Prohibited
> 2. Unfinished straw bale walls (or ceilings):  Prohibited (except for
truth
> windows of a limited size (to be specified, or left vague)
> 3. Straw bale walls with an airspace between "naked" straw, and the wall's
> finish:  Prohibited OR limited to a size (to be determined) and/or with
> separation (to be determined) from flammable material above the straw bale
> portion of the wall.
>
> For those who think restricting any of these things is wrong or that there
> should be no straw bale code at all, just tell me to jump in a lake.  But
if
> so, I will wait until summer when jumping in a lake is refreshing.  Thanks
> for any thoughts you might have.
>
> Martin Hammer
> California, USA
>
>
>
> > Andre,
> >
> > Your remark on the cover makes a very good point it remembers me of the
> > continuing struggle preventing the design of SB houses with parapet
> > walls. We all know it is bad practice but it persists with poorly
> > informed architects leading the way. I suppose there are too many
> > people out there who when you talk about SB immediatley conjure up a
> > mental image of a pueblo style building.
> >
> > A problem we have here in the Netherlands is that SB houses tend to
> > become very complex and therefore expensive buildings. Possibly this is
> > because there is the image that an eco-friendly house should have an
> > organic form and the design becomes organically construed. I prefer a
> > simple building that is allowed to evolve over time. Maybe I am a
> > modernist at heart but I like simple straight forward buildings that
> > are not that clean cut that they do not age well. Buildings should be
> > such that they can take on a patina as they grow older and better.
> >
> > Rene
> > On Jan 12, 2007, at 18:42, André de Bouter wrote:
> >
> >> Thanks also for asking why THAT picture was, and still is, on the cover
> >> of Gernot's book. The explanation (very 'sexy' picture) should be a
> >> warning for all (future) writers among us. Don't let editors have 51%
> >> power over the content and the form of the book. In my humble opinion
> >> THAT picture undoes much the writing that is in that same book. Maybe
> >> I'm making a case of something that will turn out to be in fact a good
> >> and fresh idea. But I'd like to see some more data before seing it on a
> >> cover of a book (wich is for the rest a very good book!).
> >
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>
>

>