[GSBN] Prefab hoe-down

Derek Stearns Roff derek at unm.edu
Thu Feb 25 18:05:16 CST 2016

I appreciate the organic aesthetic and the rounded corners mentioned by Bob Theis and Robert Gay.  I’m curious, though, about how you see the distribution curve of public/client interest, versus amount of organicness.  In New Mexico, where I live, a large percentage of the population appreciates the thick walls and rounded corners of traditional adobe buildings.  Even if they wouldn’t pick that style for their own house, they appreciate the look, and consider it attractive.  Many people that I talk to are thrilled that strawbale walls are even thicker than normal adobe walls.

However, I see a very quick drop off in appreciation when “organic” moves into “funky”.  At a guess, 90% of the people who like the organic, round look of many adobes and some strawbale houses, would reject the Rachel Shiamh home (Wales) that Robert included in his message.  Elegant curves and gently undulating surfaces have a lot of fans; lumpy and irregular doesn’t.  The dividing line will vary with the individual, but around here, I think the bell curve is pretty steep, and “too organic” has limited appeal.  As for Mickey Mouse’s Kitchen, something fun for Disney World isn’t likely to be a style that many choose for their house.

Pre-fab strawbale can have curves and organic character.  It would be hard to reach the hobbit and hippie end of the spectrum.  And while I might appreciate those modalities, I don’t think we are dropping off much of the mainstream public, when we accept the range of forms that can be done with pre-fab.


Derek Roff
derek at unm.edu<mailto:derek at unm.edu>

On Feb 25, 2016, at 3:19 PM, Bob Theis <bob at bobtheis.net<mailto:bob at bobtheis.net>> wrote:


I am not at all surprised at the extent to which we agree. Seeing pictures of that first bale house of yours made it quite clear that you were okay with  walls that were not stiff  and straight!

And I absolutely agree that making  low carbon buildings commonly available by reducing their cost is a much  higher priority than  avoiding machined edges.

What I am hoping is that we don’t stop at the current approach  but  find a way to have it both ways:  Let the bale walls remain BALE walls - not wood boxes with bales in them -  AND  get them up and covered faster.

This probably requires a different approach  to aggregating bales , like ….glueing them into a panel?

The point being, there’s an asset to bale walls  - the character we find so appealing  - that we don’t want to lose.

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