Fan post!
February 13, 2010, 21:48
Filed under: In English | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The following picture was submitted to us by an avid fan, who understands our rabbit minds very well.

Two rabbits logging - first steps and saw

We will be working under cameras which will be connected to the Internet 24/7.

ProVillage in the Google SketchUp Warehouse

Some of the models for the project are now viewable in the Google 3D Warehouse.

This is only the beginning. I will try to upload one picture per week mainly on the topics which we have covered and will be covering in our blog in the future. Things have been progressing at such a pace that we have to collect our marbles and put them into some reasonable order again.

– Tero


Our role models

The video posted here is one of our sources of inspiration:

  • created through ones own labor, a truly cost-effective and decent form of housing.
  • learning through labor to create satisfactory solutions, even under very hard conditions.

This video is really worthwhile to see!

Clip: Dick Proenneke, building his house in arctic conditions, in Alaska.
Klippi: Dick Proenneke, rakentaa taloaan arktisissa olosuhteissa Alaskassa.
短影片: 低棵普揉呢可 (Dick Proenneke) ,在北极区条件中搞他的一坐木头房子。

Oheinen video on eräs inspiraatiomme lähde:

  • omalla työllä luotu, erittäin edullinen ja asianmukainen asumus.
  • oppiminen työn kautta luomaan tyydyttäviä ratkaisuja, kovissakin olosuhteissa.

Video on todellakin katsomisen arvoinen!

Chinese 此影片是我们的灵感来源之一:

  • 通过自己的努力造成一坐特便宜适当的建筑。
  • 通过工作学习建成适当的解决方式, 包括在猛烈的气候情况中。



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Once you have gathered some knowledge of the land and a design which you have found appropriate, the origin of the bales is to be found out.

It would be helpful to know exactly how big the bales are, and which kind you are going to supplied with – and at least their approximate dimensions. This is crucial during the design and engineering of the framing.
There are many farmers with available bales, so there is also a lot to choose from. Do meticulous research on the quality aspects of the bales. The difference in price does not vary that much, and this little extra effort is worth its while it in the end.

Visual inspection

strawbalesThe colour of the bales tell a lot of the history of the bales: If they have seen weather or not? Have they been stored properly? If there is a lot of white powder coming from the bales when they are agitated, it can be considered as interior mold. This can also be judged by smell; in the case of mold, the smell is unmistakably musty.
If the the visual inspection reveals that the bales damaged by water, moldy or otherwise not in good condition, it is advisable not to use the bales in the construction because then the whole construction would be placed into jeopardy.

Bale density

One important factor when choosing the bales is the density of the bales. Most building codes which recognize straw bale construction commonly require a specific density for the bales.
Calculating the density in some regions is usually calculated by the dry density of pounds per cubic foot (1.10 kN/m³).
It is essential to know the density of the bales in order to guarantee the building inspector of the quality of the bales.
A field test can be conducted in order to make sure of the density of the bales.

Moisture content

moistureThis might be most important factor when choosing bales. If the moisture content reaches over 20% , this level is enough to give a habitat for mold and decay. It is difficult to reverse the process of mold and the process produces two things the bales need to rot: moisture and warmth.
When measuring the moisture of the bales, keep in mind that the bales take and lose moisture in relation to the ambient moisture. When reading the moisture content, the reading should come from the bales and not the atmosphere.
It is not recommended to measure the moisture content in the early morning, when the dew may affect the reading.

straw baleQuestions such as what science do the local codes require in making the decision also have to be answered. And furthermore, it is much more desirable to have the straw bales from the local area for the building to have a lower impact towards the environment.

After you have found a suitable supplier concerning the bales you can move on to the next phase of designing and construction.

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Design Styles

Before the final decision is made, many variables have to be considered before that final design, such as weather conditions. If there is a lot of rain in the location – either seasonally or throughout the year – a home designed for a place which gets little or no rain may not be the appropriate option for the design. The style and details of the design is important for the efficiency of the home, so this should be considered thoroughly and with time. This is a process which should not be rushed and the characteristics of the property should also be taken into consideration.

Visiting and evaluating the site and property

It can be considered vital to understand the property before and during the design-process. If there are no hurries in the design, one has the opportunity to study how the land interacts during the year. One could discover later on during the project that the location is a wind tunnel for most of the year or that some other place would have suited better in terms of solar power and ventilation.

All this is found out through experience.

Water considerations

Pay attention to how the water flows on the property. Study if there are any bodies of water which are influential to the planning and find out how they behave. What is the situation of the ground water? – and if you are not connected to the network of the city, what are the possibilities of building a well?

Some points to consider are also the leach field for the septic system, and where and how the grey and black water is treated.

The well for drinking water must be situated a safe distance away from these and it might be best to keep the well uphill from the drain field where waste water is drained to. These are one of the reasons why topographic knowledge of the topography is essential in the planning.

In addition, a possible field should be close enough to minimize costs.

Solar trackingsolar panelo and sun

The sun is vital for an efficient home. It is possible to harness the suns energy for electric and heating needs. How does the sun behave towards the land during the different times of the year? These points affect the size and need for the roof overhangs of the building and the placing of solar panels. Further investigating comes in regarding the trees, prevailing winds and the sloping of the land.

Other aspects on design

When you know your land and the positioning of your house, it is time to start designing. Pay attention to window placement and size, since these affect the heating costs. Straw bales are ideal for sound proofing and for insulation, so this information with additional info on light and ventilation creates balanced results.

It is more economical to design with the land: taking in mind to topography, water wind, the possibilities with solar issues and flora. It is also more beneficial to take into consideration to have the home as a part of the landscape.

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Why build with straw bales? It can be said with great certainty that tens of thousands of people have been aroused to building their homes or other constructions with straw bales around the world. Until now, it has come to our attention that all around the world there are projects going on involving straw bale building, and the number is surely to grow with the awareness of the pros of building with straw bales.

Below are a few points which speak for the methods of incorporating straw when building with straw bales.

Energy efficiency

thermo slimAs the costs for heating and cooling rise, energy efficiency is gaining more and more attention.  It is said that a well designed and built straw bale home can lower the heating costs by 70 % compared to a conventional home. It can be considered as a significant saving.


People are generally attracted to the thick walls which resemble medieval architecture or adobe homes in Latin America. A straw bale house has a totally different feel to living it, than a conventional house. The material is versatile enough to make various kinds of forms into the general building and firstly one just has to get to know the method in which way the combination of straw and other materials behave.

Acoustics/noise suppression
acoustics 004 png
Straw bale homes are remarkably quiet. The thick walls muffle sounds and diminish echoes. The most important aspects to take into consideration when planning a straw bale home is to get the correct balance of sound insulation, natural light and energy design.

At some locations around the world the technique of building strawhouses has been implemented when building recording studios. And it can be thought that workshops where noise producing machinery are operated, the strawbale walls would make conditions more bareable.

Fire rating

Homes built with straw are extremely fire resistant. A straw bale home is three times (3x) more resistant to fire than conventional homes – this is due to the fact that there is not enough oxygen in the bales for a fire to burn lively, and since the bales are covered with a thick and earthy render. In this case, one should think of a 5 cm layer of plaster covering the bales.

Environmental aspects

Millions of tons of straw is produced and burned every year. Instead, the straw can be used to produce a healthy and pleasant living environment. It also said that the amount of volatile organic compounds is less than in many other conventional buildings

See: VOC’s – Volatile organic compounds (

The ease of building

Everybody can learn to build with straw bales after a few guidelines are taken into consideration. When building with straw bales, the most difficult task would be the taking into consideration of the framing, electronics,  plumbing, etc…

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Eco-building – Part 2: Is it possible to build a 10.000 €uro house, which can also be lived in during the winter?

The objective is to build a house in accordance with the regulations and norms of the European Union, while not costing more than 10.000 €. The materials to be used are stone, strawbales, material obtained from the thinning of a forest, recycled materials, clay and sand.

The calculation does not include:

  • The price of the lot.
  • The road to the lot.
  • Transport, i.e. the trasportation of the raw materials to the building site (varies remarkably and is case specific)
  • Supply of electricity and Internet to the site.
  • The building of possible machines and apparatus for construction.
  • The required inspection fees and similar fees of various regions (which vary remarkably according to region).
Picture: Tero Syvänen

Picture: Tero Syvänen

Included in the calculations are:

  • 70 sqm of heated space
  • 50 sqm of covered cold space
  • Water input/output, plumbing
  • The treatment of ‘black’ and ‘grey’ water
  • A composting toilet
  • Electrical instalments, made mainly up of a great number of sockets and lighting spots
  • The heating and ventilation system
  • [For the waterproofing of the roof, an approximate of 1000 € is intended to be allocated, but this information is slightly unsure]
  • Doors and windows
  • The facilities required for the kitchen
  • Shower facilities
  • Flooring
  • Paint and other material required for the decoration of the interior
  • A lot of work


From our three separate ’ProVillage’ -documents one gets a relatively clear idea about our project:

The documents can be found both in Finnish and in English.

The downloading might take a while, because the files have an approximate of 130 images.

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