Today I visited the nearly complete first straw bale council houses in Britain (2 three bedroom homes). North Kesteven District Council have been building these houses at Brumby Crescent in Waddington, Lincolnshire and they are due to have tenants move in end of April 2010. Designed by amazonails (http://www.amazonails.org.uk) they are a beautiful building with wonderful wooden balconies, a Sedum roofed porch, solar thermal water heating, lime render, and straw bale walls. The straw bale makes the walls curve at the edges and the lime render gives the whole house a lovely looking texture. The only source of heating is a wood stove and the passive heat through the large south facing windows. All the materials used have been ecologically sourced, including the use of ‘smart ply’ which does not use chemicals in its manufacture. Inside it is open plan downstairs with 3 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Tenants will be chosen using the standard procedure from the housing waiting list. The project has been so successful that the council are starting work on two more similar homes in Martin nearby. The main problem the build has encountered has been the lack of an established supply chain for many of the materials they wished to use. Overall it is inspiring to see such building techniques being used to build accessible public housing.
More information about the houses is available at: http://www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/straw