Claire L Cardwell en Design & Sustainability Network, Architects and Technicians, Architects Architectural Designer (@Blue Designs), Writer & Artist • The Naked Architect 7/11/2016 · 2 min de lectura · +300

Building your house out of Straw? How about Rice Straw?

I've just discovered that the best straw to use for building is rice straw.  Pine Needle Straw and Coconut Straw also work really well, but due to the high silica content in Rice Straw it's far better than wheat straw.

 Building your house out of Straw?  How about Rice Straw? Rice is a staple food for more than half the world's population.  For every ton of rice that is grown about 50% is lost to waste as husks and straw which is typically burnt on site.  This not only pollutes the air with carbon dioxide and particulates it affects the fertility of the soil below.

Image credit sustainablog

Two innovators are changing that.

Building your house out of Straw?  How about Rice Straw? In India, 16 year old Bisman Deu saw rice husks being burnt and wondered if they if they could be turned into sustainable building materials - creating low cost structures that could withstand the heavy monsoon rains that the traditional houses made out of earthenware bricks and mud huts do not.

She started experimenting in the family kitchen and came up with a material she calls Green Wood.  Green Wood is a waterproof particle board that is fungus resistant and mud proof.  

Photo Credit -

Deu and her two team mates won the Social Innovation Relay, a global contest from the Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Europe and her concept was also featured in Unicef's State of the World's Children Report.

Building your house out of Straw?  How about Rice Straw? Across the world in Goleta, California, USA a company called Oryzatech founded by architect Ben Korman and his partner Jay Ruskey is making building blocks made from compressed rice straw and glue.  Stak Blocks look like oversized Legos and are a lot easier to handle than compressed straw bales.

Building your house out of Straw?  How about Rice Straw? Stak Blocks weigh about 30 pounds (13.6kg) and are 30.48 cm by 30.48 cm by 60.96 cm (1' by 1' by 2') and can easily be maneuvered by one person.  They do require a concrete foundation like compressed straw bale building and need to be rendered (plastered) or kept dry with exterior cladding.  Apparently the blocks will sell for about $8 once production gears up. 

Photo Credits - Oryzatech & Trendhunterstatic

Perma-Culture and Organic farming has taught farmers to use arable waste as soil amendments and soil builders.  Now farmers can earn an additional income from selling their waste rather than burning it and polluting the environment.   

Sources : -

 I think it's vital to talk about all aspects of Architecture - whether it be planning, construction, design or green building. I have written 3 E-Books & over 110 articles. Please feel free to let me know if you have any queries regarding architecture, planning & construction & I will assist you.

Building your house out of Straw?  How about Rice Straw? Claire Cardwell is originally from the UK and moved to South Africa in 1999.  She started Blue Designs in 2004 after working as a driver for Avalon Construction on a luxury home in the Featherbrook Estate.  In her spare time Claire is a keen artist and photographer.

Other articles I've written on building with straw & hemp :-

I've started two new Hives - please feel free to join!

Ken Boddie 7/11/2016 · #9

#8 Break a leg!

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Claire L Cardwell 7/11/2016 · #8

#7 I've actually got some plans afoot to start an NGO to try and address the housing shortage here in SA using renewable resources that would be energy efficient as well. I've been incubating it since July, thanks for the reminder!

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Ken Boddie 7/11/2016 · #7

#3 Seems to me, Claire, you may be in the right place, and have the right background, to do something effective about this. But the big question arises, is it the right time for you?

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Claire L Cardwell 7/11/2016 · #6

#5 I live in Boskruin (near the Rhema Church and Crescent Clinic (was the Old White Horse Inn). It only takes me about 20 minutes to get to Parkview on the back roads. Parkview is lovely, did you stay in one of those stunning old houses with the pressed iron ceilings? Please send me the link to your article when you write it @Paul Walters! I love the idea of a 'truth window' too.

Paul Walters 7/11/2016 · #5

@Claire Cardwell Wow, this is amazing. Today I was working on a piece on building straw houses for a Magazine here in Indonesia . Met an architect here in Bali who is on a quest. Rice straw is all burnt here which seems a bit ridiculous. Her first structure has been turned into a coconut oil processing centre which is proving to be successful . I like the 'truth window' she puts into the structure showing the straw under the plaster. I have to have the piece finished by thursday and will eventually post iy on beBEE . However thanks for the article ( I might reference your work in SA) By the way where do you live in Gauteng ? I used to live in Parkview !!

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Claire L Cardwell 7/11/2016 · #4

Thanks for the share @Ken Boddie

Claire L Cardwell 7/11/2016 · #3

#2 Absolutely - I like the lego bricks too - it will make straw building so much faster and easier. Whilst I was writing the article I wondered if a little sand and some Sporosarcina pasteurii bacteria (used for the bio bricks) would eliminate the need for the glue.

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Ken Boddie 7/11/2016 · #2

I see 'padi' straw being burnt regularly all over South-East Asia, Claire. These 'lego' bricks look really interesting and may be a viable consideration in countries like Indonesia! Potential to greatly increase lateral resistance, particularly to the 'big bad wolf' who 'huffs and puffs'? 🌪

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