A project led by the University of Bath has led to the creation of straw homes, the first of which are about to go on sale. With prefabricated walls, that are timber-framed and filled with straw bales before being covered with wooden boards, it is thought that these innovative straw homes could cut energy bills by as much as 90%.
The homes are built by architectural firm Modcell in conjunction with an engineering project at the University of Bath. It’s hoped that they can be used to meet housing demand in the UK, as well as reducing fuel poverty and help Britain reach its sustainability targets.
Professor Pete Walker, who led the project, said that building with straw could be crucial if Britain wants a low-carbon future. Overall, the sector must reduce its energy consumption by 50% and its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. A radical change to the way we build our homes such as this may be what is required to meet these ambitious targets.
These are the first straw homes to go on sale on the open market; the homes have undergone extensive fire resistance tests and weathering tests which have shown that straw is a very durable construction solution. The buildings have been built to a standard that will allow them to receive construction certification.
Around half of the straw produced in the UK is effectively discarded, and it is thought that the discarded 3.8 million tonnes could be used to build around 500,000 homes. An average three-bedroom house requires 7.2 tonnes of straw.
The seven houses built, available in Shirehampton in Bristol, are clad in brick to ensure that they fit in with the surroundings. Overall, these straw homes are fitting in with wider building trends, as a few schools, offices and some homes have sprung up around the country that are partly built by straw.
The top floors of the Shirehampton homes look across the cliffs of the Avon gorge. They’re not too expensive either in comparison to other properties in the area, with the two-bedroom versions expected to sell for around £200,000 and the three-bedroom homes expected to sell for £235,000.