[GSBN] prefab strawbale

David Arkin, AIA david at arkintilt.com
Wed Jul 29 19:42:39 CDT 2009

Greetings All:

As many of you know, in our bale buildings we continue to use  
14" (35cm) wood I-joists for vertical framing at windows and doors,  
and located between 7' to 10' (2m to 3m) on center otherwise, with an  
LVL or some other plate at the top.  The I-joists have less wood than  
a 4x6 (9x14cm) post, and are made up of 'engineered' lumber (OSB and  
LVL).  This is a fraction of what the ModCells are using.  I can't say  
it's the ultimate solution, but the creation of surfaces for stapling  
mesh on both sides of the walls seems to greatly lighten the lateral  
bracing as compared to some of the systems folks are using here in  
earthquake country.

Before looking at the website, the thought that popped into my head  
would be to prefab nearly everything EXCEPT the bales at the factory,  
and then site install and finish these into frames carefully sized to  
receive common bales of that region.  These would be much easier to  
ship than the ModCell panels.  They could be much larger wall  
sections, or possibly even building modules (floors, wall and roof)  
without all of the weight of the bales and finish already in place.

All that said, I wish them only success.  Here's a building system  
made largely of renewable resources, and is carbon negative.  Not much  
else out there that can claim that, and probably none other in the  
prefabricated world.


David Arkin

*  *  *  *  *
Arkin Tilt Architects
Ecological Planning & Design

David Arkin, AIA, Architect
LEED Accredited Professional
CA #C22459/NV #5030

1101 8th St. #180, Berkeley, CA  94710

"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
— A. J. Muste

On Jul 29, 2009, at 4:07 PM, Bruce King wrote:
> Prefab or site built, compadres and commadres, what still drives me  
> a bit nuts is that we are still using quite a lot of framing lumber  
> to build (most) straw bale buildings.  There are lots of compelling  
> reasons for that, of course, but I keep hoping someone will make the  
> breakthrough that makes load-bearing straw bale much easier and  
> hassle-free.
> There are lots and lots of load-bearing bale buildings all over the  
> world, yes, of course, but they are not mainstream.  Meaning:  in  
> one way or another they are not easy, or cheap (??!!??), or just  
> don't meet (or haven't yet been proven to meet) the kind of building  
> standards that most of us have to work with.
> Straw bale building is stuck in a bit of a wood rut, and I don't  
> know how to bump it out.  Do you?
> Thanks,
> Bruce King
> (415) 987-7271
> bruce-king.com
> On Jul 29, 2009, at 3:51 PM, John Glassford wrote:
>> G ' day Again
>> Re the costing of the Pommie Panels.
>> They say from 250 pounds per square metre that is expensive, very  
>> expensive.  That brings them in at around $500 per square metre and  
>> as we all know it takes around three standard bales for one square  
>> metre of wall.  In our case that costs $15 per square metre just  
>> for the bales.  Then you have to build them and render them of  
>> course but the margin is huge in the case of the Pommie Panels v  
>> the good old Nebraska way!
>> I am of the opinion that tilt up panels will have their place but  
>> the costs of manufacture transportation and erection cannot compete  
>> with the way we build with straw bale just like this little cottage:
>> http://glassford.com.au/main/?attachment_id=1751
>> The Straw Wolf.
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