Pioneering Work

bike racks utrecht
Could we have eco-bike racks like these in Utrecht, Holland? We’ll have to convince the Police first!

When we set out on this road to build Europe’s First Straw-Bale Church building – and possibly the largest straw-bale community building – it never really occurred to me what it meant to be a pioneer.  I just thought, this is it, and we’re getting on with it.  Now I know the truth!

Hannah Jones of Green Gauge Energy is currently completing our Energy Statement, and has also been doing the “overheating calculations”.  But there’s not enough data on the thermal mass of straw bales. Kuba Wihan of our design team, based in the Czech Republic has been scouring the research and calling on colleagues in the straw build world in order to convince her to rate them more highly.

Helen Gribbon, our engineer from Renaissance, has found herself obliged to specify foundation depths of over 2m because of the clay soil and proximity of trees.  Again, our team at Straw Works are urgently trying to argue the case that because a straw building is lighter and more flexible, it can sit on shallow trenches.  Helen won’t sign off the project unless she is certain – and because the old hall became dangerous through subsidence, we can’t accept anything less than her utter confidence either.  But deeper foundations are considerably more expensive!

Pioneering even extends to bike stands.  Accord to the Secure by Design standard, they have to be steel tube filled with concrete!  We want to argue for solid wood.  Surely there aren’t that many bike thieves who come armed with chainsaws?!

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