straw houses are the new ecological trend in France

Straw houses are THE NEW ECOLOGICAL TREND IN FRANCE

ecological and economical par excellence, “straw houses” are now arousing the interest of many future owners in France. growing shortages of resources such as wood push residents to use straw as an alternative building base. found in abundance in local agricultural crops every year, this rather incognito material is now making headlines as the future of sustainable architecture. read one to learn about the benefits of building straw houses, as well as some challenges.

the anatomy of a straw house | image © aleksander karanov

HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE with straw

choosing the right variety of straw is essential; experts recommend using wheat, tricticale (wheat / rye cross) or rye. and since straw is a seasonal product that can only be found at the end of summer, it is best to plan construction work during this time. the site must also be equipped to receive the straw bales that the construction team will use to construct the exterior walls, partitions, roofs and attics.

future owners in France are now turning to straw houses
construction of straw houses | courtesy image rescue door

for houses with small surfaces, it is preferable to use the so-called “nebraska” construction technique which consists of stacking straw bales in staggered rows and then connecting the bales with bamboo. larger spaces, however, require the use of another technique known as ‘timber framing’, where homeowners first build the entire timber frame before installing the straw piles in the structure. Regardless of the technique applied, the straw bales should then be covered with lime and coated with organic paint.

future owners in France are now turning to straw houses
straw house of vincent furstoss in melle | courtesy image france 3 new-acquired

expose the FOR AND AGAINST

the biggest advantage of using straw is affordability; a bundle only costs around € 2 if the owners go and collect the straw themselves. and when it comes to construction, a ‘do it yourself’ approach is strongly encouraged, as straw houses do not require a sophisticated amount of building knowledge. finally, contrary to popular belief, straw is good for health, much more insulating in the long term, and resistant to fire.

unfortunately, humidity is the greatest enemy of the straw, which makes it impossible to continue working in the event of rain. owners should then ensure that bales are constantly stored in a moisture-free area throughout the site. special foundations must also be provided to prevent the soil from rising and possibly rotting the straw from below.

future owners in France are now turning to straw houses
vincent furstoss (left) overlooking the construction of his house | courtesy image france 3 new-acquired

THE STORY OF VINCENT FURSTOSS

living in deux-sèvres in the french town of melle, vincent furstoss has long thought of owning a straw house while offering a space of 136 m². he led this vision by purchasing 400 bales of straw. 18 months of work followed and furstoss was assisted by construction professionals throughout the process.

the walls of his house were erected with straw, wood and earth. Eddy Fruchard – construction specialist – explains that this process has been very popular for 15 years and according to him, this type of house represents the future of construction.

future owners in France are now turning to straw houses
straw house of vincent furstoss in melle | courtesy image france 3 new-acquired

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