Friday, 14 November 2008

Hotel Made Of Straw

The owner of a 16th century coaching inn is building an extension - made of straw. The new buildings at Ralegh's Cross, in stunning isolation 1,300ft up on Exmoor in Somerset, are the first pair of strawbale two-storey semi-detached houses in the UK. They form part of owner Peter Rowan's plan to reduce the inn's carbon footprint, aiming ultimately to achieve carbon-neutral status.

The strawbale semis will provide accommodation for two staff families at the hotel. Foundations are finished and much of the external frame is in place. Building the structures is amazonails, a leading UK straw bale builder. The building method, developed with UK weather in mind, involves constructing the roof first in order to protect the strawbale walls as they are built. The roof is then lowered onto the walls, compressing the bales and forming a strong, load-bearing structure. The building will stand on low impact foundations of limecrete, local stone and recycled foam glass.

There is a book on straw bale building by Barbara Jones: 'Building with Straw Bales' is available from amazonails priced £10. Building with straw began in North America in the mid-1800s. Pioneers arriving on the Nebraska plains found they had no materials to build with so they used strawbales from the newly invented baling machine. Training courses with amazonails cost between from £25 and there are sometimes volunteering opportunities.

For information on these, and on design and consultation services, go to:
The picture is of me building with straw bales in Oxford.

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