[GSBN] SB in India

Derek Roff derek at unm.edu
Mon Dec 5 12:56:40 CST 2011

I'd like to underline Martin's comment, that India has a great diversity of climates.  About thirty years ago, I had a chance to travel there fairly widely, and I would guess that over 50% of the places I visited would seem appropriate for SB construction, from a climate standpoint.  There are many places that are relatively high, dry, and/or cool.  Micro-climate is everything in building design and siting.  There are probably few countries in the world that don't have some sites that are fine for SB, as well as some locations where it would be iffy.  

Derek Roff
derek at unm.edu

On Dec 5, 2011, at 9:52 AM, martin hammer wrote:

I looked into this a year ago and could find no SB buildings in India.  However, the first (and only?) straw bale building in Sri Lanka was completed in 2005.  Seehttp://www.thearchitect.lk/2009/10/a-house-of-straw-2/ for a descriptive article and http://sustainablesources.com/GSBNarchives/msg02309.html for a string of GSBN e-mails about the project.  The lead proponents of the project made a presentation at the 2006 ISBBC in Ontario, Canada.

John’s advice about avoiding straw building in monsoon climates is the conventional wisdom, but I think strawbale can work in tropical climates (including those with monsoons), albeit with additional challenges.  Knowing the 6-year performance of the Sri Lanka building would be helpful (most if not all of Sri Lanka is tropical and subject to monsoon rains).  Generally that building was exceedingly well-constructed and engineered (I think over-engineered).

This tropical climate discussion occurred when Andy Mueller and I were considering strawbale in Haiti (tropical climate, no monsoon rains, but subject to hurricanes annually).  Based on the first building we are largely convinced of its viability in Haiti and similar climates, but will monitor it over a longer time period, as it hasn’t endured a hurricane yet.  Keeping the bales dry during production, storage, and construction was more challenging than “usual”, but doable.  The 29 moisture sensors in the walls are reporting good moisture content numbers.

But the other large question regarding SB in India is, where in India is this strawbale project being considered?  India has many climates, including arid ones, and mountainous ones like northern Pakistan where PAKSBAB’s work has proven so successful.  Also, in addition to climate, availability of straw is important.

One side note.  When I revisited the Sri Lanka project, I noticed the manually made bales were encased in welded wire mesh on four sides (not the ends) instead of (or in addition to?) being tied with strings.  Probably more material and labor intensive than the conventional method of applying mesh (when used) after bales are stacked.  It seems to have more cons (discontinuity of mesh across the wall face, cost (?), mesh too close to straw (?)) than pros (incredible through-ties, mesh already in-place) but it’s an interesting idea I’ve never seen elsewhere.


On 12/4/11 6:39 PM, "John Swearingen" <jswearingen at skillful-means.com> wrote:

> Rikki,
> The only climates where I would not recommend straw building are those with a serious monsoon season.  Monsoon brings on the worst conditions for straw--ambient moisture is quite high AND it's also very warm.  Having watched a friends expensive leather luggage disintegrate in the space of a month was a very potent lesson.
> John 
> On Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM, Rikki Nitzkin <rikkinitzkin at earthlink.net> wrote:
>> Hi all, 
>> I have had a request from a woman about building a SB 1st aid center in India. Does anyone know of any straw buildings in India (other than the tiny hut André made)?
>> or legal issues for building with straw there?
>> I have suggested to the woman that it may be more interesting to build with Cob or Earthbags, if the area she is looking to build in does not get cold in the winter...
>> Anyone interested in collaborating with this project or financing it can get in touch with me off-list and I will send her the information. I do not know her personally, but she says she is working with an Asociation called "Alzahara"
>> thanks, 
>> Rikki Jennifer Nitzkin
>> rikkinitzkin at earthlink.net
>> www.rikkinitzkin.wordpress.com <http://www.rikkinitzkin.wordpress.com> 
>> 0034 657 33 51 62
>> Aulás, Lleida
>> "Nunca puedes cambiar las cosas luchando contra la realidad existente. Para cambiar algo, hay que construir un nuevo modelo que hace obsoleto al actual." Buckminster Fuller

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