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Construction of a store with straw bales

Let's put ourselves in context... 

Straw combined with mud is one of the oldest known building materials. The use of straw bales is relatively new since the packaging machine appeared in 1850. In Europe, the first constructions date from the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1940s, wars and the interests of cement and iron made this type of construction fall into disuse. It is time to recover these types of techniques and give them value since the advantages it offers are numerous: 

1. The construction cost is lower than conventional house technics, especially if we can recycle materials and if the ones we buy are local, thus reducing transport costs, we can also design and build it ourselves, giving free rein to ingenuity and creativity, making the process more satisfying. 

2. The thermal resistance of straw is higher than that of wood, bricks and even that of abode. These constructions allow adequate thermal insulation, being warm in winter and cool in summer, allowing greater energy savings. 

3. Ecological, straw is a natural resource that produced in an adequate way does not generate an environmental impact, we can also use recycled materials, thus seeing garbage as a resource. In addition, we create walls that are toxic-free and breathable. 

4. They are highly resistant, earthquake-resistant constructions. We can find houses built with straw with more than 150 years. 


Start up... 

Construction design, beyond the desired measures and shapes, we should consider wo factors, the orientation, which will depend on our interests, in our case we should choose a cool and shady area. The ground where it will be seated is important too, it must be a firm and well-leveled ground.  

The next step after levelling the floor was to create the base where the walls will settle, it’s important that the straw bullets are not in direct contact with the ground to avoid an excess of moisture that promotes the degradation. We created a trench of about 30 cm of width and about 5 cm of depth where we later placed recycled bricks fixed with a mixture of gravel, sand and cement (concrete). We cover the bricks with asphalt fabric thus providing greater insulation against moisture. 


The time has come to make the walls, and it is as simple as placing the straw bullets in rows, bearing in mind that each straw bullet of the upper rows should support in two lower bullets thus providing greater stability to our wall. We also use iron pins of around 2m length that we drive vertically into different points of the wall, thus joining the bullets and creating a firmer structure. During this stage of the construction we learned some important things, the state and firmness of the straw bullets is very important, if we must undo them to create smaller ones that fit it is essential the tension of the stitching not to lose firmness. Another point to keep in mind is to respect the vertical lines, we used pins in the corners and a thread that marked us where to place the bullets with respect to the ground. 


Our construction is divided into two modules, for the separation of the modules we also use straw bullets. 


The next step was the installation of 9 concrete beams, we perforated the stone wall about 10 cm to fit the beams, leaving the precise space between each of them for the vaults, previously fixed to the wall with concrete. Once the beams have been placed and seated, we begin to fit the vaults, each filled with sheep wool, thus offering the construction greater thermal insulation.