[GSBN] prefab strawbale

John Swearingen jswearingen at skillful-means.com
Wed Jul 29 14:03:09 CDT 2009


Well I have a number of reactions.  First, it's great that developing
consistent manufacturing standards for a straw design are being explored.
Such a large part of the architectural universe relies on products that can
be easily specified.

The principle embodied energy in using straw bales--comes in
transport--they're heavy and bulky and not easily handled in quantity.
Pre-fab increases this disadvantage by requiring an additional
loading/off-loading and transport scenario. The weight of both bales and
plaster is carried by the earth's atmosphere as additional CO2.

Perhaps this is a relatively minor cost compared to the job-site convenience
of delivery of a finished product at a specified time, and pre-fab can
assure (as it does for stick construction) a consistency and precision of
product and (hopefully) more efficient and less costly assembly.

I don't see anything particularly about this concept that could not be
handled on site, perhaps under a cover, with portable equipment.  Handling
would be greatly reduced, since modules could be assembled and placed
directly into the building, perhaps with only three sides and interlocks
when placed adjacent to other panels--something that would be more difficult
if heavy transport is involved.

All that said, I'm amazed to see this modern prefab technology is using
broomsticks to stake the bales together!  And I have to say that I cringe a
little to see bales so tidy and neatly enclosed...but then I'm just an old
hippy, really.

John "Mod Con" Swearingen








On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 10:46 AM, martin hammer <mfhammer at pacbell.net>wrote:

>  I encourage people to look at the following website regarding a prefab SB
> system being developed and implemented in the UK:
>
> http://www.modcell.co.uk/page/new-balehaus-at-bath
>
> Is anyone familiar with this?  Also, I include here a brief sequence of
> comments between Dan Smith (GSBN member), Dietmar Lorenz (of Dan’s office),
> and myself.
>
> Martin Hammer
>
>
>
> On Jul 29, 2009, at 8:29 AM, Dietmar Lorenz wrote:
>
> Very interesting, indeed. I wonder how material (and cost-) effective this
> system is after all. The frames have to be overly sturdy for transport and
> handled very carefully to avoid damage to the plaster or the installed doors
> and windows. Wiring and plumbing could also be a challenge with such small
> units, rather than full length wall segments or prefab boxes. Dan has
> probably more insights to share from his experience with our ZETA
> prototypes.
>
> But it's great to see that this is being explored in a serious way, and it
> certainly architecturally appealing. Maybe I'll see it from the airplane
> Saturday morning, when we fly over the UK...
>
>
>
> On 7/29/09 8:35 AM, Dan Smith  wrote:
>
> Thanks, it's certainly refreshing in concept and looks.  But it seems about
> $25 sf for bare bale panel only, hmm.
>
>
>
> On 7/29/09 9:40 AM, Martin Hammer wrote:
>
> I agree with both of your comments.  The wood frames are thick, deep,
> heavy, and consume a lot of wood.  Maybe an ‘*I*’ section could be used.
>  And I hadn’t noticed the per sq.ft. price.
>
> It’s still good to see.  A modern vocabulary with SB (rarely seen), using
> the bales only in solid panels (no holes poked in them), and at least trying
> pre-fab, with plaster done in shop conditions (even though it inherently
> creates bulky, heavy panels that must then be transported).  Not sure how
> dependable the bale to frame interface is in terms of potential water
> intrusion.
>
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>


-- 
John Swearingen

Skillful Means
www.skillful-means.com
blog: https://skillfulmeansdesign.wordpress.com
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