The Straw Bale House is a superb example of a sustainable residential piece of modern progressive architecture.
The Straw Bale House, located in Cavan Ontario, is a post and beam structure that includes several passive sustainable design strategies. Designed by Scott Shields Architects (a firm based in both Toronto and Los Angeles), the home was completed in 2003 with a total of 2,500 square feet of living space. In 2009, Toronto based architecture firm, Sustainable T.O. used the leftover construction materials to create a storage shed, as well as a sugar shack.
The residence features a frame constructed of exposed engineered timbers with long-span trusses, which creates the envelope for the passive window system and straw bale walls. All openings are well-built, air-sealed, and possess good thermal performance to create a high efficiency exterior system.
The interiors have minimal wall separations to encourage good air circulation, with reversible ceiling fans and operable windows. The interior ceiling fans can be used both in the heating and cooling season. In winter, cool air is drawn from the floor up, forcing warm air down into the space, while in summer, air flows downward to initiate evaporative cooling. The operable windows allow for natural cross ventilation and are strategically placed to achieve the stack effect. Talk about smart ventilation systems!
Have you ever heard about Straw-bale construction? It is a building method comprised of stacking straw bales on a raised foundation with a moisture barrier in between the layers. While straw-bale construction can be used as a structural frame, this home uses it primarily for its insulation capabilities! This renewable building method is cost-effective, naturally fire retardant, and easily available.
The house is strategically situated on the south end of the property which takes full advantage of the winter sun, while reducing the summer's heat gain. To help keep annual cooling costs low, the gallery is thermally-glazed and vented, which also helps maintain comfortable indoor conditions.
The best feature about this home? It does not rely on any municipal utility services, and everything (from water to electricity) is produced to power the house's needs.
The latest in solar and wind energy technology, along with smart sustainable design, help the Straw Bale House function harmoniously. Scott Shields Architects achieved their goal of making this property a progressive and sustainable modern home. This project has been featured in Project Green Toronto for its comprehensive use of modern sustainable technologies, and green design strategies.
Visit Scott Shields Architects to learn more about their expanding portfolio of sustainable projects.
Visit Sustainable T.O. to see more of their expertise in green design demonstrated in all of their other works.
All Photographs are courtesy of Scott Shields Architects.
Researched and Written by Crystal Yung, Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Waterloo University