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RE: GSBN: re Ecohouse

Hi Martin et all...
> 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.  

Go Jump in a Lake! But PLEASE do enjoy the swim!

I understand that my thoughts may not be applicable for CA SB building, or
maybe I don«t understand what the codes are for...but I sincerely believe
that "prohibiting" things is counter-productive to the learning process.

I think it is more productive to "recommend" or "suggest" and then let each

I believe that drafting a document of Good Practice (as has been mentioned
already referring to things like fire, water, etc.) is a fine idea, but if
it turns into "the law" it will limit the possiblilities of creativity and
free will.

Maybe you refer only to "contract building" where the builder is completely
responsible for the result of what they do.  If that is what you are
referring to (those cases where the owner doesn«t become involved in the
design and building of their home), it may be nessary to "prohibit" certain
things to avoid irresponsible, low-quality building as often occurs in
modern construction practices.  Any contractor who uses stupid building
practices to save time/money is cheating his/her client.

If the contractor is really dedicated to building high quality homes,
"prohibiting" should not be necessary.

And in the case of "owner-builders" recommending "proven" techniques, and
"warning" about problematic techniques should be enough.  If an
owner-builder wants to take "risks," having been informed that what they
want to do is dubious, I think they should be allowed to do so.  I truly
believe that as long as the builder (be it a contractor o owner-builder) is
willing to assume responsibility for their actions, they should not be
limited by restrictive laws.  

All this being said, I believe that although your recommendations are
definitely "good practice," a truly diligent and well informed builder
taking the proper precautions could get away with breaking any of them!

Rikki Nitzkin
Aul?s, Lleida, Espa?a
(0034)657 33 51 62 
www.casasdepaja.com (Red de Construcci?n con Balas de Paja)
> -----Mensaje original-----
> De: GSBN [<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:GSBN@...";>mailto:GSBN@...] En nombre de Martin Hammer
> Enviado el: jueves, 18 de enero de 2007 2:53
> Para: GSBN
> Asunto: 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.
> 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, Andr&eacute; 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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