Huff And Puff But This House Won’t Blow Down – Straw bale housing as an ecological alternative

Karl and Deborah Jay-Lewin and their children Jake and Kezia have moved into their new straw bale home in The Park at the Findhorn Foundation Community. The house is called Solus, which is the Gaelic word for light, and was designed by Nicole Edmonds of Edge Architecture and Design, and built by Build One, the Findhorn Foundation Community’s local ecological building cooperative.

It is the first straw bale structure to be built as a home in Scotland and certainly looks too solid to be blown over either by the huffing and puffing of wolves or the wildness of the Scottish weather. Straw is an unusual building material for this part of the world, but it is natural, renewable, readily available, low cost, and provides insulation 2 to 3 times better than the average well-insulated house. It also breathes, an important feature of ecological housing at the Findhorn Foundation, allowing the controlled exchange of air and vapour.

The straw, specially densely packed into square rather then rounded bales by a farmer near Peterhead, was inserted as infil insulation into a post and beam structure and then covered inside and out with a breathable lime mortar. A gas fired boiler provides the underfloor heating and hot water, and a wood burning stove will be added later.

Architect Nicole Edmonds said, “The building of this house took over my life. It was an incredibly exciting and challenging project and a wonderful learning experience. I thank Karl and Deborah for becoming patrons, birthing this first project so that so much can follow.”

The building of Solus is a significant step in the transformation of The Park from a caravan site to an innovative and inspiring ecovillage, continuing our commitment to live with an ecological conscience and experiment with new forms of sustainable human settlement.

Ecovillage Training, presented by the Findhorn Foundation in association with Global Ecovillage Network Europe, takes place 22 Feb-22 March, 2003. It consists of 8 modules which may be attended separately or as a whole.

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