Practical Ecology

Nature Switched On

 

 

 

 


in the Pyrenees  the first 10 years

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gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-

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                         a   S T A M M E R  project              

2008 October 4 & 5, Saturday & Sunday


Thanks to the help of some friends we were able to erect the straw bale walls in only 2 days. All of us were non-experts so it was a process of trial and error, learning on the fly. Straw bales are a very special kind of material and you have to get a feeling for them. They combine some pleasant characteristics (flexibility, quick to build up) with notorious vices (irregular shape, heavy (25 kg), dusty).

 

 

 

 

 

Before placing the first row of bales, we hammered nails of 10cm halfway into the supporting OSB boards. They have to fix the bales in position and are a more practical alternative for the iron bars, sticking out of the foundation walls, that are often used. We also erected some guiding boards on the corners. They have the important function of assuring completely plumb walls and should perhaps be of a thicker, more solid wood than we used.

 


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Nails sticking out of the OSB boards.
Saturday 11:45

Placing of the first row of bales.
Saturday 13:26

This corner showed some bulging which we had to correct later on.
Saturday 15:02

 
 

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It  is also of vital importance not to exercise too much pressure when placing the bales. This extra pressure is transmitted to other bales on the corners, causing bulging walls.

 

Of course you have to cut some bales back to specific lengths (some 15 bales altogether). We used the same straps (Cordstrap) for tying these bales as the white straps sticking out of the walls (that will be used to pressurize the walls).

 


On top of the window and door boxes you have to leave some space filled with loose straw to allow for proper compression when the straps are tensioned.

 

On the left the parts of the ring beam that will go on top of the walls.
In the centre the manufacturing of custom size bales.
Saturday 17:28

 
  Undersigned measuring the size for a custom size bale.
Saturday 17:30

North face with the smaller sized window box.
Sunday 15:39

 
 

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The building up of the walls goes remarkably fast. But a lot of time was taken up at the end of each day by protecting the building with PE sheets against possible rainfall. We used 7 sheets but it is probably better to use only one big sheet of better quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the walls in position we now can have some idea of the final space, size and other features. From the outside the building looks remarkably bigger than expected while the opposite is true for the inside. The acoustics inside are spectacular: it seems you have to speak up twice as much to get the same volume.

 

Overview of the building site, looking east.
Sunday 15:36

 



Better not wait until dawn for the laborious job of covering the building up.
Sunday 17:03



West face, exposed to wind and rain in winter and low sun in summer so without windows.
Sunday 15:38
 

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The 'green' activities on the terrain were limited to the plantation of about 60 bulbs of botanical species, that we had bought and received by post from Ecoflora in Belgium. The species are:

Allium flavum
Arum italicum
Corydalis solida (
Fumewort)
Galanthus nivalis (C
ommon snowdrop)
Lilium martagon
Narcissus poeticus
(Findern Flower)
Ornithogalum umbellatum
(Common Star-of-Bethlehem)
Scilla bifolia
Tulipa sylvestris
(Wild Tulip)

They were planted on the centre terrace, in an area previously mown and with some shade to meet the requirements of some species (Lilium martagon, Corydalis solida and Scilla bifolia prefer (half-)shade). An exception was Arum italicum (Italian Lords-and-Ladies) that needs more shade and humus and was planted in the border with the wood.

 
   

introduction
floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
contact
index
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-

map
>> 2008 Oct 25
<< 2008 Sep 28

 

 

 


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Latest revision on:  01/08/2018