Straw Building

Bale walls before plasteringstraw_window

Bale walls before plastering                    Porthole of Truth

Straw Building Our studio walls are composed of bales of straw. Construction details below.

Habib Gonzalez is a local straw builder who also runs workshops.
Green Planet homes builds in Alberta and Saskatchewan.


  • Even Temperature – one can stand in the doorway on a hot summer day with arms outstretched and feel the difference!
  • Acoustic Insulation – with delight we note the highway noise is hardly noticeable even with the windows and door open and we don’t hear a thing in the winter. Just the music.
  • Hand made – feels like the place for a hand work studio with hand plastered walls
  • Deep Window Sills – make us feel cozy and leave lots of room for plants and decorations.

Construction Details for the Barefoot Handweaving Studio/Gallery

  • begun in August 2002, moved in all complete except last finish coat outside Feb 1st 2003
  • made of wheat straw bales from about 90 km south in Creston
  • 13 m (42 feet) x 9.75 m (32 feet) outside dimensions, 3.48 m (10 foot) high walls on the ground floor
  • 6.5 m (24 feet) x 9.75 (32 feet) second story
  • R 40 of chopped paper insulation blown into the roof and the half second story  Insulator has a hand woven duvet cover in trade
  • post and beam construction with truss roof – posts were the peeled trees from the site, two are exposed inside and one is a wildlife tree with woodpecker holes still showing
  • slab on grade foundations with footings all around of ~ 50 cm (2 feet) – continuous pour
  • insulated under slab and along sides down into the earth with 6 cm (2”) foam
  • Last troweling of the floor added iron oxide so the top 5-10 cm is a rich earthy red.
  • “ladder” of 2 x 4s laid below walls on the slab, fiberglass insulation – flood precaution
  • standard size wheat straw bales stacked like bricks, pinned with steel rebar occasionally
  • stucco wire “stapled” (home made bent wire) onto the inside and outside of the bales, Kootenay Forge ‘needle’ used to secure the outside wire to the inside wire in places
  • hand plastered using cement/clay stucco, 2 undercoats in the fall, one finish coat in the spring. Last interior coat was white sand and white cement  – Howard Sempf of Riondel did an excellent job
  • outside troweled rough, then sprayed and sponged with ferrous sulfate to give a ‘straw’ colour – cost $5 for the whole building!
  • inside was stain that was a mix of ‘terracotta’ and ‘sandstone’ – also ‘straw’ colour.
  • heating is simple electric baseboard heaters – cost per month in mid-winter is about $50
  • we planned to use geothermal heat but rejected it because of the cost, maintaining the equipment and I didn’t want the looms to be subjected to in-floor heat
  • Cost for the whole project was approximately $100,000 in 2002.