30 Apr 2008
Straw houses are under the spotlight as UK’s first straw bale holiday home is launched and a straw house wins the Grand Designs Best Eco-home Award.
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Visit a unique home grown home that doesn’t cost the earth
A chartered accountant who turned her back on a successful career to follow her eco dream has built the UK’s first straw bale holiday home.
East Yorkshire farmer’s wife Carol Atkinson spent 20 years as an accountant before following her heart and studying for the MSc in Architecture, Advanced Energy & Environmental Studies that fuelled her ambition to build a house of straw. Her vision was to build a unique eco house that she could offer as a holiday let whilst she used a study of its thermal properties for her thesis.
Constructed on a chassis to satisfy the planners, the environmentally friendly holiday home is made from 96 full and 45 half bales of local wheat straw and took eight months to complete. Overlooking a lake on farmland in the tranquil East Yorkshire village of Brind, near Howden, the finished house is equipped with sheep fleece under-floor insulation, solar panels, a micro-wind turbine and wooden roof shingles to complement the green credentials of its building materials.
45 year old Carol explains; ‘Straw bales are a fantastic natural building material. They provide a high level of insulation that can significantly reduce the energy needed to heat or cool a building. When combined with plaster on both sides, straw bale walls are fireproof, vermin proof and airtight. The internal clay plaster moderates heat and humidity to provide a healthy, stable indoor environment whilst the exterior lime render protects the home from the elements. They are ideal as a cost effective and environmentally friendly garden room or home office’
Encouraged by the experience of her first build, Carol has started work on a more ambitious project ñ a two bedroom, one and a half storey permanent holiday home that has been designed by a leading eco architect and will be furnished with reclaimed wood and vintage fabrics ñ and is offering practical and theoretical training courses for architects and other professionals, builders and those considering self build. For more information about the courses please call Carol Atkinson on 01430 410662 or e-mail email@example.com.
Down to the Final Straw!
Ecology borrower’s straw bale house wins Grand Designs Eco Home award
Rachel Whitehead’s straw bale house in Wales won the Grand Designs Best Eco Home award. The pink house known as Penwhilwr, which is Welsh for watchtower, is the first two-storey load bearing straw bale house in the UK and only the second in Europe.
The planning for the house began many years ago, when Rachel bought the woodland in which her home sits. Planning permission took a couple of years to obtain, and the build had been underway for three years when Rachel approached the Ecology for a mortgage to fund the remaining works and the installation of the renewable energy systems. Up until this point Rachel, with the help of friends and volunteers, had lovingly but painstakingly sculpted the house by hand. The house is a truly sustainable home, incorporating photovoltaic cells, solar thermal panels, a wind turbine, rainwater harvesting, an Aquatron sewage composting system and biomass heating, using wood coppiced from her woodland.
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