The Orkney News featured several articles from our own Nick Morrison on how he constructed his home using straw bales. The oldest straw bale houses are around 130 years old, the oldest European house in France dates back to 1921. When a brick dated to 3000 years old was broken apart the straw inside was as bright and golden as the day it went in. But is this a form of construction we can still use today – and in Orkney? Nick here gives us an update.
The Turf Roof
The Straw bale house features a turf roof. This helps it to blend in with its surroundings. If you are contemplating a Strawbale house and a turf roof you need to think in terms of additional support. Architects work on a value of 100Kg per Sq meter for conventional roofing but 250 Kg per Sq meter for a turf roof.
A moss or Sedum covered roof would be lighter as it would not need the 100mm of soil. Sedum requires 50mm. You could reduce this a bit further if you installed an irrigation hose on the ridge. One has been installed on the Orphir house since the turf was damaged by the combination of drought and drying winds.
This photo shows buttercups from my study window.
I am aiming to sow wild flowers on the roof. We originally had a few orchids but they unfortunately died in the drought.
Reporter: Nick Morrison
You can read about the construction of the Straw House by clicking on the links.