[GSBN] Prefab hoe-down

John Swearingen jswearingen at skillful-means.com
Wed Feb 24 21:31:02 CST 2016


*"But it feels like movement in the wrong  direction." --Robert Theis*

ah, yes...but.....

“We're all mad here," the Cat said.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where -' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.”

Even a bale building with flat walls and sharp corners will feel different
from any other. I know this to be true, because last weekend a Past
President of the AIA came up to our booth and explained it. After declaring
that she'd worked with earth blocks and strawbale, she then gazed at me
seriously through her glasses, and said,

*"The blocks....they are hard. [pause]*
*"Strawbales.....they are soft."*

*I nodded seriously.*

*"They have a different feeling," she said. *

So now we have it on authority; the best panel wall will still be imperfect.

John "Soft Core" Swearingen
(and credit to Bob for inspiring this thread as we chatted in front of the
dairy section at the infamous Berkeley Bowl market).

On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 7:00 PM Bob Theis <bob at bobtheis.net> wrote:

> Chris has been advocating for prefabricating bale walls for so many years,
> and wondering why the slow uptake of the approach, that he  merits a
> considered reply from one of the holdouts.
>
> It’s all  Matts’  and Judy’s fault.   When they gave their first straw
> bale workshop in California, I had just finished some stud-framed  projects
> where I was calling for  double stud walls to get some visual weight,  and
> beating the plasterers over the head to create surfaces and corners that
> were NOT perfectly straight and flat. I came away saying, “ There must be a
> way to create thick informal walls that’s intrinsically thick,
> intrinsically  informal. “ …and I got my answer. Straw bale  was thick , it
> was informal, and if you wanted perfect surfaces and straight corners that
> was extra work, instead of extra work to relax them.
>
> And I wasn’t alone.   When the first bale  project got some publicity, we
> were getting a LOT of phone calls from people who wanted to know more. This
> was 1992,  before all the wonderful books, so we’d spend considerable time
> with these calls, and it was evident that,  while the ecological and
> superinsulative qualities  gave them *permission *to pursue this offbeat
> technique, it was the relaxed character of the walls that was the real
>  pull. The emotional pull.
>
>
>
> Maybe it was our cartoon-based upbringing. Witness Mickey Mouse’s kitchen
> at Disney World. Try not to barf at the saccharine color scheme, and focus
> on the room and objects, because this is by folks who know what appeals.
> The basic geometry is still rectangular, but the hard edges have been taken
> off.
>
> So I bow before the success of prefabrication in  reducing  the costs of
> bale building, but continue to fret about the stiffness that this moves the
> material toward.  Yes, you can plaster  bale filled panels by hand, and be
> as informal about the resulting surface  as you care to be, but it is
> primarily the edges where we read the nature of the walls, and
> prefabricated panels give you machine-made edges.
>
> To me, the most sobering,  and challenging,  statement in the bale
> literature is still the woman who said, “ I wanted a bale house, but what I
> got is a house with bales in the walls.”
>
> I’m sure large parts of the population will be perfectly happy with bales
> in the walls. Especially if it makes the difference between having  a house
> or not.
>
>  But it feels like movement in the wrong  direction.
>
> Bob
>
>
>
>
>
>
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