Monday, 11 May 2009

Straw Bales!

I've just done a Straw Bale building course at Hackney city farm. It was such a nice way to spend a sunny weekend in London. I don't know a hell of a lot about construction and even less experience of doing it, but it really made no difference, as long as there is someone on site who knows what they are doing everyone else can learn as they go along. That person was Emma, from Amazonails, a not for profit social enterprise that specialises in Straw Bale building. They have teams dedicated to building straw bale homes and do courses like this one all over the country.

Twelve people were on the course, they were mostly in their late 20s and 30s, some with specific projects in mind and some who, like me, hope that maybe one day they could build their own home on a nice plot of land.

It was interesting to hear the different motivations for wanting to learn this technique. There definitely seemed to be a significant financial motivator, one couple on the course said how they saw this technique as a way for them to be able to one day own their own home. The environmental motivator was probably secondary for most, no one really talked about it and that is an important point. Using natural materials, like straw and hazel is basically good common sense, the sustainability of it is complimentary. It requires very little extra work to make a stake out of hazel rather than using a plastic one. It is more creative, more satisfying, cheaper and actually, construction wise, better. Amazonails certainly promote the environmental benefits of their techniques and they have actively researched and developed the most environmentally sustainable methods, that is brilliant, it is thanks to people like them that the construction industry is changing, it makes the Code for Sustainable Homes more realistic.

I'd say everyone on the course had a pretty good sustainability literacy. There were people there from many walks of life, which was really encouraging, it was definitely not a sandal wearing hippy crew. We didn't spend hours persuading each other to be greener we didn't need to, we were just getting on with it, showing the way and that's what we need to do, we need to show the way, just live sustainably, just get on with it because it makes sense. When you lead, when you show the way and people like the look of it they follow!
Thanks to my Emma for buying my place on the course as a Christmas Present, it was brilliant! x


Adrian Windisch said...

They are great, I've built a few in Oxford. I write about green construction here

Morgan Phillips said...

Thanks Adrian, I'll check out your blog!