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Re: GSBN:Largest strawbale buildings?


We recently completed a 30,000 sf horse arena with an attached residence
that was mostly steel framed, with no overhangs.  We did not participate
in the design process and the steel frame was already installed when we
arrived.  We had to work with what we were given.

The building is at 8000' and very exposed.  Due to the size of the
structure the owner did not want to use earth or lime due to the
maintenance expense of re-plastering regularly.  We used cement plaster
and sealed it with solixane.  We installed gutters everywhere.  This
info may of little use to you since your building is multi-stories and
this one is one story for the most part.

What I can tell you that may be of interest is I believe the expansion
and contraction of the steel frame is much more significant that wood
and the integration of the bale walls is a stiff element in between the
members.  We did not do a wrap, but more of a conventional approach,
placing bales between the posts.  I am noticing a few more cracks than i
have on other projects and I believe it is because the frame is
expanding and contracting.  I don't think it is due to wind because the
frame is very stout and in my opinion, over-designed.  Also, the cracks
are spread out and not shear in location and direction.  We installed
vertical expansion joints every 20 feet on the entire building.

One thing we did do that I found to work really well was to install
siding over the bale walls on the second story of the residence - the
only part of the project that was over one story.  We installed nailers
and plastered one coat between them and then installed old barn wood
siding as a rain screen.  In my opinion, this saved time and will almost
guarantee that moisture will never hit the bales.  There is paper behind
the siding and a gap behind the paper.  Not only did it save time, but I
believe it saved money.  Stucco being $6/sf and siding being $3/sf for
the materials and labor is faster than plaster, we did well choosing
this method.    I have attached a picture of the finished residence

I have been working on a webpage for this project but I don't have it up
yet.  Look for it in a couple weeks.

We have not done any energy related stuff.  In fact, 90% of the area is
not conditioned.

Cost for the steel structure and bale walls finished was around
$2,000,000.  This included a 2500 sf residence.  The rest is a wide open
horse arena.

The project is located near Carbondale, CO

Completed Nov 2006.

Owner-designed with us as de facto engineers.

We were the builder.

Good luck,

Jeff Ruppert, P.E.

Odisea LLC
Engineering and Consulting

Front Range Office 		West Slope Office
1731 15th St. #105		209 Clark Ave.
Boulder, CO  80302		Paonia, CO 81428
303.443.4335			970.948.5744
303.443.4355 f			1.866.795.6699 f

Kelly Lerner wrote:
Hi all,
I'm working with a steel manufacturer in China, ArcelorMittal (an
Indian company), who is interested in developing a straw-bale wrap,
steel frame school in Qinghai province. Because the building they are
interested in building is fairly large, 3-4 stores building of about
2400 sqm (that's 25,833 sf for you 'murricans), the development
officer would like photos of and statistics about other large
strawbale buildings.

If there is a relatively large strawbale building in your country,
please send me the stats and a photo. I'd also be interested in any
energy use monitoring that has been done. I will compile all stats
and photos into a pdf document for ArcelorMittal and also post it to
the SB-R-US yahoo group if anyone would like to download it for their
own purposes.

Building Info Needed
Size in Square Meters or Square Feet:
Number of Storys:
Year Completed:
Structural Approach:
Cost (if available):
Energy Efficiency Data (if available):
Web site (if available):

Thanks in advance,


In the age of global warming, it's cool to be green.

Have you read Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing
Your Home into Harmony with Nature?               Available in
bookstores throughout the universe.
Kelly Lerner, Architect
One World Design                509-838-8812

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