[GSBN] Straw Bale in Marine Environments

David Arkin david at arkintilt.com
Fri Aug 15 11:57:26 CDT 2014

Hello GSBN:

We're working on a housing project for the Esalen Institute in Big Sur (on the California coast, south of Monterey, right on the ocean).  We've discussed using straw bale panels for the exterior walls (and possibly party walls) of these multi-unit buildings.  One of the structures will be located only meters away from the bluff above the ocean.  Yes, beautiful, but sometimes very foggy, and heavy rains with high winds at times, too.  

Morning humidity in the middle of winter averages around 90%, dropping to less than 70% in the afternoon; summer averages range from 70% to 33% (it's 55% at this moment, fyi).  Our structures will have 3' to 4' (1 meter +)overhangs to the west, north and east, and 6' to 8' (2 meter +) toward the south (and no bales on the south walls).  All sites receive a good amount of sun (no significant trees or hills).  

Curious to know if anyone has any experience building with straw in similar conditions, and if so what insights you might have to offer.  

We're also exploring hemcrete and some other systems, but panelized bale walls are our first choice.  Sheathing the exteriors with a rain screen is an option we're also considering.  

Thanks in advance, 

David Arkin and Anni Tilt and Team

*  *  *  *  *
Arkin Tilt Architects
Ecological Planning & Design
1101 8th St. #180, Berkeley, CA  94710
510/528-9830 ext. 2#

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

Director, California Straw Building Association
CASBA is a project of the Tides Center

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

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