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Hill Holt Wood Hosts its first Straw Bale Construction Qualification!

On the week of the 13th - 17th of February Design:HHW ran a 5 day course aimed at teaching Straw Bale construction to chosen learners of Hill Holt Wood. The  general makeup of the course allowed the pupils to work within a classroom environment, involving presentations and model making activities and practical based tasks to fully understand the stages of Straw Bale construction.

By the end of the week the aim was to create a Small 5m2 Straw Bale structure with enough space to fit the entire team within its walls. The complexity and detail of the course allowed the students to learn and get hands on with every stage of the build, these stages included:  foundations, base plates/top plates, Straw Bale walls, strapping and compression, Roof and rendering/ finishes. 

DAY 1: The team hard at work ramming the tyres with earth. Their first activity was to level the site sing aggregate to make a sturdy base then to accurately measure and mark the locations of the tyre foundations.

Throughout the week we ran presentations in the 'rammed earth hall'. The presentations ranged from general overviews of why we use straw bales and benefits in construction to detailed presentations showing the stages of its construction, appropriate foundations/ roof and detailed comparisons between traditional (Brick and Block) and straw bale in the standard 3 bedroom home.

DAY 2: Our Volunteer Carl assembling the top plates, the group split up into 2 groups to assemble the base and top plates and the window and door boxes, the components were all in parts, with only drawings to assist them the teams managed to assemble all the components. and put the base plate into place upon the tyres.

DAY 3: With the components all assembled and after a morning of straw bale model making and costing activities, the team set about on the Straw Bale Walls, this involved ppe preparations (ie scaffolding and site clearance) dressing bales, making hazel stakes, laying and staking bales and appropriate methods to keep the bales dry.

DAY 4: The day began with more in depth presentations/ talks regarding the internal and external finishes of straw bale, sills, opening details and strapping and rendering stages.

Strapping down the Top Plates

DAY 4: We then moved on to the practical, putting on the top course of bales, top plate and ratchet straps. By the end of the day the walls were compression and our design team intern Bex ran a hands on demonstration involving the students in lime rendering.

DAY 5: We then worked together as a team to create a reciprocal for the roof of the structure, had a group photo then, within the hour, the whole structure was taken down with zero wastage ready for our next workshop.

The Straw Bale Time Lapse

Please watch our time lapse to see the full 5 days summed up in 37 seconds! ...

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