Straw Bale HouseAmber and Mike Jones of Saskatoon chose to construct a home that would maximize the intentions of green architecture.
Realizing a dream to construct a home based on the principles of sustainable building means, for most of us, an imperative to dig in, get dirty, and gain some very practical knowledge.
Curtis Menard describes the details of the timber-frame/straw-bale home he is custom building near Smuts with careful attention to sequence. From the foundation to the roof build-up, plans were re-iterated to include unforeseen challenges and the simple emergence of better ideas. Menard is a 30-year veteran of carpentry. Sustainable building is, from start to finish, about adaptation—expert adaptation.
The reason for this is that sustainable building responds to the exact location where the home will stand. “We harvested the poplar saplings and the clay right from the property,” says Menard. The large timbers used in building the frame were purchased from a mill in Rosthern and Menard cut them at his Prince Albert shop. The straw bales were purchased nearby from a supplier who makes bales specifically for construction.
While the materials were local, the expertise and building methods came from great distances. Owners Amber and Mike Jones studied the art of straw-bale plastering in Asia, and further direction came from Dirt Craft Natural Building, an Alberta-based company.
The home is distinct from many houses common these days in that it is just over 1200 square feet. It is designed for a family of four, making it somewhat smaller than many nuclear-family dwellings.
At the heart of the home is the kitchen. Marble and other feature materials were collected and re-purposed from various sources to reduce the use of new materials.
For Menard, the challenges and changes don’t seem to have dimmed his enthusiasm for this kind of building. It is unlikely that any two houses will ever be the same.
Read all the stories that appeared in the Summer 2013 issue when you Subscribe now to our print and/or digital version.
Note: Comments are moderated so once you make your comment, allow 24 hrs for your feedback to show up on our website. If you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.