[GSBN] Straw Bale in Marine Environments

kevin rowell kevin at thenaturalbuilders.com
Sun Aug 17 11:17:49 CDT 2014

Hi David,

Relative Humidity…  Check with Martin Hammer for the latest humidity results from the sensors on the BWB bale house in Haiti. 

The driving rain I recommend that your first defense is a good offense, water proofing the bale surface at all windows bucks and points of condensation and potential collection. Having repaired dozens of rotten windows surrounds and poor roof details made in the last 15 years, Id say this. Rather then focusing on the water not getting in, ASSUME it is going to get in and ASSURE it has a way to get out.

 From there, it is more an ascetic/durability decision, consider airflow and desorption of moisture. 

Definitely Lime if you do plaster exterior, but don’t break the bank on NHL from France.  Use a Type S and Pozzolanic additive to help keep finished in a more reasonable budget while not compromising strength or beauty. 

Have fun on the project, Kat is an old friend and mentioned you were designing away. Hope to catch up gain soon. 

Best of luck, ten cents contributed. 

Kevin Rowell -
The Natural Builders 
www.naturalbuilding.com =  Building the future
100 Behrens  St. El Cerrito, ca 94530
Licensed California Contractor #B891512                                         
Skype ID: naturalbuilders
U.S. Cell  - 510.325.4277  

> On Aug 15, 2014, at 9:57 AM, David Arkin <david at arkintilt.com> wrote:
> 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#
> www.arkintilt.com
> David Arkin, AIA, Architect
> LEED Accredited Professional
> CA #C22459/NV #5030
> Director, California Straw Building Association
> www.strawbuilding.org
> CASBA is a project of the Tides Center
> "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
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