A straw house sounds like a stupid idea in any modern, wet and windy country like the UK. However, a housing company in Leeds disagrees.
This construction is called the Balehaus, and it has been designed and constructed by the University of Bath’s Centre for Innovative Construction Materials. We have to admit it looks pretty awesome.
More to the point however, it’s actually remarkably sturdy. It’s been tested in winds of 120mph and doesn’t move, has survived flooding (although some of the lower bales did have to be replaced at very low cost) and even set on fire at temperatures of up to 1000°C – for 2 hours. Its designers reckon it’s easily got a 100-year lifespan. Now we reckon that’s pretty impressive for something which is essentially constructed out of straw bales and a bit of hemp and wood pannelling.
However that’s not all. Of course the house is extremely energy efficient to construct, since all the materials are completely renewable. Construction costs are also very low as transport and heavy lifting are significantly reduced. And energy bills are reduced by around 80%, with the walls being excellent insulators. And you can get all this for between £60,000 (for a flat) and £160,000 (for a 4-bedroomed house), which is ridiculously cheap – even for Leeds. We’re pretty much sold…