After a process including design, engineering, and permitting, excavation, foundation building, framing, a community straw bale-raising party, plastering, and finish carpentry, we are now in the home stretch of final kitchen and bathroom detailing. Many people and groups have supported this project along the way, including Portland’s new “national treasure” Tim Kennedy, lead contractor at Vital Systems; James G. Pierson Structural Engineers; and the City Repair Project which helped rustle up volunteers who wanted to learn more about straw bale building practices at the community bale raising event that happened last August, 2019. Check out City Repair's page for important and educational projects and initiatives: https://cityrepair.org/.
On this project, Communitecture worked within the requirements of the Oregon Residential Specialty Code for strawbale construction, which include a height limit of approximately 10' for strawbale walls, no more than one story for the total project, and the provision of a substantial amount of solid wall area to accommodate lateral loads from wind and seismic forces. Metal mesh is applied over the stacked strawbale walls, which is then covered in 1 1/2" of plaster. The straw bales, mesh, and plaster work in combination to support the roof structure and to brace against wind and seismic forces. The result is a sculptural, natural building with reduced impact on deforestation, material processing, and toxins that are common with many modern construction methods.
Post by Mark Lakeman