ProVillage


A Stone Age Sauna

Frame of a sauna

The pictures are of a reconstruction of a stone-age sauna, re-built according to archeological findings.

The method of bathing in a sauna, such as pictured here, was presumably the following:

– A wooden frame was made to a size of taking in a couple of people.

– The frame was then covered with animal hides to keep in the hot steam.

– Stones were then heated up gleaming hot in a fire outside this ‘sauna’, after which they were placed inside this tent and only then could the bathing have begun.

Frame of the sauna covered with animal hides

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 10 – Working the Bales into Shape (continued…)

As an addition to the previous post: The nooks and niches in the walls can be made into various forms and for various purposes.

Nooks and niches are possibilities to remember, when you build straw bale houses

In this case too, only the imagination sets the limit.

***

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 10 – Working the Bales into Shape

Cats loves to live in straw bale houses with smooth and beautifully curved windows and elements

A straw bale house is commonly equipped with soft curves. The advantage of having softer curves around the windows is that they allow more direct light to filter into the rooms while also acting as reflectors for indirect light. These curves are easy to make and have an additional effect on the aesthetics of the house.

Mesh

When a mesh is used for the engineering of a building, the creation of curves becomes quite easy. The mesh provides a form for the straw. The desired shape is created when the loose straw is placed behind the mesh, which is then nailed to the framing. For some shapes, such as curve around a window or door, additional plaster may be needed.

When using a metal mesh however, there is always the risk of creating a Faraday’s cage.

Niches and nooks

The characteristic of the walls being relatively thick makes it possible to create niches and/or nooks, if one desires. The spaces can be carved into the walls after the bales of straw have been stacked. They act as a decorative addition to on the walls, and can also be used to highlight an item in your home. These nooks can also be made into an ideal feature if a light fixture is attached to them.

These are a number of different options available as for the mesh – welded wire mesh, plastic mesh, chicken wire. It is worthwhile to experiment with various methods regarding to various usages.

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 9 – Custom bales

A lot of custom trimmed bales are required in any straw bale home. The areas with windows serve as good examples. The task is to make a rectangular bale to fit. During the process one needs to know how to cut and retie bales, and how to notch and shape them.

Re-tying

The tip of a baling needleCutting the bales is not as easy as one would think. A bale of straw cannot be worked on as one would work wood. The bales have a tendency of breaking apart if not worked on in the correct manner. When working with bales one has to mark the bale where one wants a cut to be made and then proceed cutting the bale while incorporating a tool called a baling needle to retie the bale in parts where one will not be cutting the bale.

With a good baling needle you can retie a bale and create two custom bales from one in a short amount of time. The most important knot to know here is the Miller’s knot.

Notching and shaping

Notching and shaping require the use of a chainsaw and a can of spray paint to make the markings of where you need to cut. Notches might be needed to fit the posts and other framing components. A time-saving method is to slightly over-cut the needed part for the posts and then stuff the space with straw if needed. Be careful not to cut the string of the bales while notching. Some notches can be more intricate than others.

***

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 7: THE BEST BALES FOR THE JOB

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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ECO-BUILDING – PART 4: DIY and drawings – Artisan & craft-village project

These 3D-drawings are made by Tero Syvänen and are parts of our Artisan & Craft-village project. The band saw is incorporated with the project to manufacture lumber for construction purposes.

log band saw mill drawn by Tero Syvanen

The log bandsaw is a typical project of ours:

  • We make all drawings, through a lot of reading and writing 🙂
  • We build the bandsaw, using mostly recycled materials.
  • We test the bandsaw and make the improvements etc.
  • We re-draw the bandsaw and make all other drawings needed,  including all technical specifications, so that *anyone* can build a same kind of a saw.
  • Then we publish all these mentioned above –  on the Internet. Free for everyone.

The only thing we ask of those who build these, are photos, or videos about how the work  goes, improvements etc.

Log band saw mill Morningwood 2010 with two lasers drawn by Tero Syvänen

Log bandsaw with two lasers.

Artist home south view drawn by Tero Syvanen

The Artisan and Craftpersons village is made in parts as the project itself is relatively big.

The best way to find out about it, is to read/download our three pdf-files.

Artist house south-west view drawn byTero-Syvanen

Plan of the strawbale house

Cats upstairs loves straw-bale houses with soft curves

Cats at the veranda, second floor, at the artist’s straw-bale house

The front of the upper room, where the artisan is actually living.

You find more about our project by downloading our pdf-files. It can take some 10 seconds to download them, as the files contains about 130 pictures and drawings.

Even more drawings can be  found here:

http://henry.blogit.uusisuomi.fi/

Feel free to ask any questions or comment, in our (Finnish) blog, in your own language. Other languages that can be used (which our group understands):  English, Chinese, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian and Arabic.

Our group is interested in international cooperation in these questions.

Henry Björklid

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ECO-BUILDING – PART 3: Strawbales are outstanding as insulation!

The construction of strawbale homes has grown enormously around the world. The reason for this is the cost-effectiveness of the building material, and that the normal supporting structures and the clay-plastered straw bales replace many other materials, such as tile or wood cladding, wind-proof boards, insulation, plastics and decorative boards.

A large straw bale house - Wikipedia

Even large houses, such as exhibition halls of thousands of square meters, are being built using straw bales.

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From our three separate ’ProVillage’ -documents you can get a relatively clear idea about our project:

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

Downloading might take some time, because the files have an approximate of 130 images.

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Wikipedia-Matawa_straw_bale_library

Here a library has been constructed using straw bales.  The wall support structures have been crafted for the windows. After this the walls have been plastered with a clay and sand mixture to leave it to a distinctive light colour.

straw-bale-house-window-installetion

The supporting structures are made in the same fashion as in the usual building of a house. Here a window-area has been prepared for the application of the external render.The window benches and the window frames are connected firmly together to the supporting structure. In the meantime, the ‘packages’ of straw are tightened and ‘barbered’ to a uniform surface.

Straw-bale-house-under-construction

The window benches and the window frames are connected firmly together to the supporting structure. In the meantime, the ‘packages’ of straw are tightened and ‘barbered’ to a uniform surface.

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The insulation capability of a straw bale structure

The Finnish thermal insulation requirements will tighten remarkably by the year 2010.

”The U-value (or U-factor), more correctly called the overall heat transfer coefficient, describes how well a building element conducts heat. It measures the rate of heat transfer through a building element over a given area, under standardized conditions. The usual standard is at a temperature gradient of 24 C°, at 50% humidity with no wind (a smaller U-value is better). U is the inverse of R with SI units of W/(m²•K)”

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-value#U-value

The U-value (previously known as the K-value) in part C3 of the collection of building regulations. —– The U-value is to indicate the thermal insulation of various structures in a construction.

The smaller the U-value, the better the insulative capabilities of the material.

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PASSIVE HOUSE:

“The term passive house (Passivhaus in German) refers to the rigorous, voluntary, Passivhaus standard for energy efficiency in buildings. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house

All or nearly all of the heat energy needed  is obtained from solar energy and the heat generated from the living in the house.

A passive house does not have an actual heating system. The outer shell of the house has to be well insulated and tight.

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550-1

The pictures above and below have been taken from a guide book which is published by Amazonails, which also can be downloaded in PDF-format from:

http://www.amazonails.org.uk/UserFiles/files/strawbaleguide.pdf

550-2

The following is a table of summary:

The tightening demands on external insulation of various building materials

building regs

.

The situation is such that if one was to use 45 cm of mineral wool on a wall, that would also fall into the requirements of a passive house, but at the same time would be very expensive.

So it can be deducted that in reality strawbales are the best and most cheapest insulation material, falling greatly below the norms with its values even under tightened circumstances.

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Here you can find a lot of literature in English on the topic:

http://www.amazonails.org.uk/?contentId=59

Pictures :  http://www.StrawBale.com and http://www.LearnStrawBale.com

An information package can also be found there which can be distributed freely.

Videos can be seen here => http://www.StrawBale.com/videos


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