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Baltic Straw Bale Building Workshop in Esna, Estonia
Baltic Straw Bale Building workshop took place in Esna (16 km from Paide), Estonia, on 8-12th October and gathered together 18 participants from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. The project “Promotion of Straw Bale Building for the Climate Change Mitigation” workshop was organized by Estonian partner “Ecoton”.
The lecturer was straw bale building specialist Lars Keller from Denmark. Delegations from each country gave presentations of straw bale buildings in their countries on the first day of the workshop. In Estonia and Lithuania the number of straw bale houses already exceeds 10, in Latvia the number is smaller, yet - there is information about 6 houses, some of them are finished and some are just in the design stage.
Some of participants didn’t have any experience in straw bale building technique, so in the beginning of the workshop we had theoretical lessons about straw bale building. There are tree kinds of straw bale constructions - post and beam, load bearing and hybrid.
Hybrid technology partly includes first two kinds because the load is carried by posts and beams and straw bale walls at the same time.
During the workshop we had a deeper insight directly into the load bearing technique that is not as popular as post and beam technology, yet.
Nevertheless, many one-storey living houses have been built using big bales and load bearing technology in Denmark.Estonia is the first Baltic country that has its own load bearing building already.
One of advantages of the method - it's possible to save money by reducing the need of wood for posts and beams. However, there is no need to worry about the safety of the house, because loads are carried by highly compressed straw bales that are covered with plaster, and the plaster also protects from moisture and fire.
We had three days for the practical part of the workshop for building 10 m2 (inside) meditation house called "Sunset Dome” by using hybrid technology. The foundation from stones was prepared before the workshop started. Next to the building site there was a big hill of straw bales, approximately 2200 x 1200 x 700 mm each.
Our task was to finish the design of the meditation house, to build straw bale walls and to prepare wooden structure for green roof.
Despite cold, windy and rainy weather, participants were optimistic and did a lot - built the foundation plate, the top and bottom plate of the wall, made straw bale walls, prepared places for windows and doors and screwed trusses for the "living roof".
The house was covered with canvas at the end because we didn't have enough time to put the first layer of plaster that was necessary to protect walls from moisture.
Then we went on an excursion on the last day of the workshop. We visited Nina village next to the Peipusa Lake where four straw bale houses designed by architect Rene Valner are located. These efficient, comfortable and futuristic houses are also popular guesthouses at the same time. The electricity is given by grid-off windmill next to the camping site.
During the homeward trip we also visited the traditional style post and beam structure summerhouse in Kooraste.
The workshop has gone and the participants have gained a big stock of knowledge and experience to promote straw bale buildings in their own countries.
After the workshop a special mailing list was made to let the people in Baltic States share information, knowledge and news about similar events and experience in Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia. We hope that the event in Esna was the first Baltic Straw Building Network meeting and it is expected to organize such meetings every year.
Latvian Straw Bale Building Initiative
Efektyvi statyba iš presuotų šiaudų: praktinis seminaras Estijoje