I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff . . .: English Architects Build Wolf-Proof, Fire-Proof Straw House

You cannot trust anything today. After generations were taught how the little pig who built his house out of straw was negligent, a straw house has not only been built in England but it has even passed the industry standard fire safety test. Called the Balehaus@Bath, it is built of pre-fabricated straw-bale and hemp sections and would resist the most determined, wind-blowing wolf.

In the test, the Balehaus@Bath was exposed to temperatures above 1,000C and passed. It is not only an answer to wolf-phobic pigs, but nonrenewable building materials.

The ModCell BaleHaus system has been created by White Design in Bristol and Integral Structural Design in Bath.

This requires some revision of the story:

The first little pig built his house out of straw because it was the [ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE] thing to do.
. . .

One night the big bad wolf, who dearly loved to eat fat little piggies, came along and saw the first little pig in his house of straw. He said “Let me in, Let me in, little pig or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”, said the little pig.

But of course the wolf [COULD NOT BLOW THE HOUSE DOWN AND INSTEAD WAS INVITED IN FOR A VEGAN MEAL EATEN ON HAND-BLOWN NATURAL PLATES].

It loses something in translation, I admit.

This may also complicate our annual trial for elementary students, here.

For the story, click here.

23 thoughts on “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff . . .: English Architects Build Wolf-Proof, Fire-Proof Straw House

  1. Personally, I am very interested in “alternative” construction materials having grown up around construction and architects. I bet the R value on this gem is pretty high. I also skimmed their website and it’s off-site manufacturing model using local materials is also a winner. I hope this company is allowed to start selling their product state-side. Locally sourced modular building is the wave of the future and designs that are both good and green help this. My main concern for the construction industry though isn’t loss of job created by building modular components instead of “stick building” – that’s simply an operational efficiency but people will still be required to assemble buildings. I’m more concerned about the loss of old school construction techniques like basic framing skills. Yeah, yeah, I know any monkey with a hammer can build a frame, but building it strong and square is a skill. Building is such a fundamental activity for society, I’m loathe to remove tools from the box without a better idea of what that absence entails. However, this kind of product and business model makes far more sense than the way buildings are constructed in the most part today. We can reduce the carbon footprint of the construction process enormously with technology like this. What someone REALLY needs to invent is “green” concrete. Pound per pound concrete is one of (if not the most) carbon intensive material to manufacture found on a job site. Unfortunately it’s an excellent building material.

  2. Metrics.

    How one measures.

    How often do YOU think about it?

    Google the terms “absolute precision” and if you think, you’ll soon be thinking about measurements in a different way.

    Byron, this is OT to this thread but I think it’s another fine example of poorly designed form over function.

    Customs seized over 300,000 bongs (you read that right, bongs – glass pipes used to smoke pot and hash) bound from China. The photos provided with the story show a nice big DHS sign behind some of the pipes.

    The D – Mother-effen H S. They want the bongs. Really?

    Do they have ANY idea how futile this is? I went to guys who could almost literally build an improvised bong out of damn near any materials at hand. I’ve been known to do a little emergency cobbling myself. This is a waste. Of both time and money.

    But size isn’t “the” issue.

    We need Customs and BP in some form as they actually do provide critical services. DHS? Not so much as they appear more and more every day to be the organ of state most likely to be our very own Gestapo before this all ends with Washington in flames. Here the nexus of function and form do meet and size is a consideration.

    1) The law is futile regarding drug paraphernalia. It’s practically unenforceable. This is without factoring in the current strong state’s push for legalization/decriminalization of marijuana.

    2) This is a “found crime”. Low hanging fruit. An easy win that’s not really a win even if the goal was valid. “Hey look! Somebody robbed the liquor store and I found this wine glass!” Color me not impressed.

    3) Size is “an” issue here. The DHS is not only doubly wasteful as a management layer, it’s not doing a very good job at the limited things it could and should be doing instead of writhing like a snake ready to bite We the People. The DHS is largely a waste and security theater and should be shut down. Need I say more than TSA to convince you these clowns aren’t up to the job? Why else make sure THEIR logo got in the photos?

    cough cough cough PR cough cough propaganda cough cough go back to sleep America cough cough cough your government has it all under control cough cough those Chinese bongs won’t get the children cough cough cough

    Oh yeah. That’s hitting pretty good.

    But again, as you see, size is not the primary issue. Misuse, poor focus and weak execution are even though the administrative bloating didn’t help the situation.

  3. Out here in West Texas we hang them for possession. Then ship it to Tulia where they waste jail space. I say hang em. Hang em high.

    I hear tell that some make bongs out of toliet paper roll and that al lumina foil. I say hang em high and drop em dead in the sack.

    Lilly Langtree will be here soon to entertain everyone. We won’t tolerate no hanging then.

  4. Straw bale building has been around for a long time and if you properly stucco it or mount regular plasterboard inside on the wood framing it’s as fire retardant as any other building method. This seems to be a convenient delivery system for it but if you live in an area where acquisition and transport of straw and wood framing members isn’t a problem, it’s probably cheaper to use the traditional DYI approach for the basic construction.

    The ability to go up 3 stories is a plus as well as having a house that’s is designed to look conventional and blend in. I’ve only read about/seen pictures and plans for single story dwellings with one 2 story exception.

    The pioneers that settled the prairie used straw bales but from the pictures I’ve seen there was a dearth of framing lumber so the housed didn’t fare well, roofs collapsed etc. Log-end building is also an under-appreciated building method that produces great insulation, low noise infiltration and looks beautiful.

  5. Buddha:

    I am definitely not a fan of Mussolini and think he met a fitting end.

    I am also against the Department of Homeland Security, can you say American Gestapo or KGB or NKVD?

    I think size matters. I was reading Federalist Paper 51 this morning where Madison was talking about how 3 separate branches are necessary so power is not concentrated in any one. But part of the problem is also quantity of a certain viewpoint. If you have too many people believing that X is the right policy there is no dissension. And everyone talks themselves into believing that they are right because there is not enough dissent.

    Maybe if you have a large government there should be more diversity of opinion. But the Constitution is already a guide for our republic and I see no where within it’s words the sanction for the size of government we now have.

    I cant say for sure but Mr. Madison would probably be having a sh . . . fit over the Department of Homeland Security and many other agencies that have been created in the last 70 years. And Mr. Jefferson would be sharpening his sword.

  6. “I see no where within [the Constitution’s] words the sanction for the size of government we now have.” – Byron (not the poet)

    Conversely, there is also no prohibition of governmental size. It doesn’t mention any number of things. But there is a reason size of the government is not addressed in the Constitution and only form and function are defined.

    Because our system was designed to be function based.

    A systems of checks and balances designed to limit any one branch from having too much control. T

    his means that flexibility in apparatus scale is required and is dependent upon what the defined and desired function of any given task might be but that flexibility is constrained by the Separation of Powers Doctrine and the Bill of Rights.

    The size of the mechanism was left unaddressed because the size is irrelevant as long as the core forms of our institutions and personal civil rights assured by are protected from abuse FROM ANYONE.

    Right now those two cornerstones of the American legal system are under fire by corporations who have used K St. graft to unbalance the system. It’s been broken on purpose. If the government is the source of corporations, it’s as if the artificial child is trying to eat the parents alive.

    Do you want PharmaCo telling your children who they can marry based on gene assays? That’s what you’ll get on the path we are on. Because as long as we keep letting corporations and their scumbag lobbyists write legislation that tends to their profits you while ignoring and stealing from critical social infrastructure, what you have is fascism.

    Social stabilization systems are only “social” if they are managed to benefit us ALL. If they are geared to protect Lil’ Timmy’s Profits, guess who history shows gets holding – as they say in the septic business – the shit end of the stick? WE ALL DO. Except Lil’ Timmy. This is because of another feature of unrestricted capitalism: it attracts sociopaths and criminals. They are (in theory) responsible only to the bottom line and keeping those shareholders happy. What’s good for society, for us all, doesn’t factor into their thinking and in fact is often an obstacle for them to overcome when not the object of their venal desires proper.

    They impede the function of our Constitution, ergo, corporations must either have no direct access to the legislative process or they must be eliminated in toto. I’d settle for the short leash, but hey, if they are willing to play this idiotic and narcissistic penis comparison game until society starts to crumble and you can see the glow of their burning gated communities and corporate headquarters from miles away?

    I’ll put on the popcorn.

    But either solution fixes the problem of fascism. Natural real people, citizens as the Founding Fathers meant, should be the only people allowed to vote or lobby and only on their personal behalf. One man, one vote, one say. Not fame man can have as much say as his puppeteer’s black heart can buy. Corporations should be silent in government. Period. They are fake people that criminals use as a mask and shield. They should pay ALL of their taxes with no exceptions and they should be thankful they are allowed to sell anything at all.

    But again, this major social malfunction they have ushered in is a function size. THEIR SIZE. And the disproportionate amount of graft they can funnel into the trough. If anything, corporations are too big. It’s their ability to buy the legislation they want instead of legislation that benefits each elected officials constituents regardless of their campaign contribution that is destroying this country.

    Yeah. Size is a problem, Byron. But not a governmental problem. Government was design to function for the benefit of all – to provide for the common defense and promote general welfare. You know. Welfare. Not the demon the right tries to make that word, but what it actually means.

    wel·fare \ˈwel-ˌfer\, n.; Etymology: Middle English, from the phrase wel faren to fare well. Date: 14th century.

    1 : the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity (must look out for your own welfare)
    2 a : aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need b : an agency or program through which such aid is distributed

    Yes. Before it was a program, it was a concept. One which our Forefather believed in by the way. Welfare is literally the well-being of society. A duty to all from all when used in the context “common welfare” was used at the time of drafting and still the words primary meaning.

    Making sure society does not disintegrate is why we have laws and government. It did a much better job of of taking care of all of us real natural citizens with corporations on the short leash. Time for the leash again or the dog is going to crap all over the carpet and then the house is going to burn down.

    You have the nexus in your sights, but you have your poloarity revesed.

  7. And here’s how those hippies might heat the thing! From this week’s sciencefriday on npr:

    “What if solar power was more practical at the personal level? In this segment, we’ll talk with an MIT chemist working on ways to improve solar energy. His lab has created a catalyst that can aid in the hydrolysis of water, producing oxygen and hydrogen for use in fuel cells. The researchers say that such a catalyst could make it simpler to store solar energy.”

    The truth is you can smoke this building but it won’t get you high!

  8. Buddha:

    “Right now those two cornerstones of the American legal system are under fire by corporations who have used K St. graft to unbalance the system.”

    Agreed.

    “Natural real people, citizens as the Founding Fathers meant, should be the only people allowed to vote or lobby and only on their personal behalf. One man, one vote, one say.”

    Agreed.

    “1 : the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity (must look out for your own welfare)
    2 a : aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need b : an agency or program through which such aid is distributed”

    The second definition did not exist when the Constitution was written. The first is what they had in mind. I looked it up in an 18th century dictionary. There is no provision for taking money from one individual and giving it to another. I can also quote Jefferson on that subject as well. He was quite against taking from one man to give to another. And I am sure he would be even more against taking from an individual to give to a corporation, he would be apoplectic.

    Corporations need to quit buying congressmen and senators, but then isn’t it up to us to send representatives to DC that will not corrupt our rights to line their own pockets?

  9. Isn’t it up to us to design our legal system to where corporations can’t hurt anything serious if they wanted to?

    We can’t do that with guys the corporations paid to put in office writing the laws to favor the corporations.

  10. Corporations that often do even bother with the middle man. They just write the law themselves and say, “Now do it or else.”

  11. Buddha–

    A bit off topic: You brought up the subject of Mussolini’s brain being sold on Ebay. It got me to thinking about a book I read a few years ago–Michael Paterniti’s “Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip across America with Einstein’s Brain.” Have you read it?

  12. Elaine,

    I have not read that, however, it is on my never ending “to read” list after hear Mr. Pareniti on NPR one day.

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