The Straw Bale House

Front Cover
Athena Swentzell Steen, David A. Bainbridge, Bill Steen
Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1994 - Architecture - 297 pages
11 Reviews
Imagine building a house with superior seismic stability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation, using an annually renewable resource, for half the cost of a comparable conventional home. Welcome to the straw bale house! Whether you build an entire house or something more modest-a home office or studio, a retreat cabin or guest cottage-plastered straw bale construction is an exceptionally durable and inexpensive option. What's more, it's fun, because the technique is easy to learn and easy to do yourself. And the resulting living spaces are unusually quiet and comfortable.

The Straw Bale House describes the many benefits of building with straw bales:
  • super insulation, with R-values as high as R-50
  • good indoor air quality and noise reduction
  • a speedy construction process
  • construction costs as low as $10-per-square-foot
  • use of natural and abundant renewable resources
  • a better solution than burning agricultural waste straw, which creates tons of air pollutants

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Review: The Straw Bale House

User Review  - Patricia - Goodreads

While I'm probably never going to build a straw-bale house, this book is going into my "resources for post-apocalypse rebuilding" collection. There is good information about foundations, windows and doors, roofing options, and more that make this a keeper. Read full review

Review: The Straw Bale House

User Review  - Kate Smith - Goodreads

I may change the rating once I've built my straw bale library... Read full review

About the author (1994)

Athena Swentzell Steen grew up in Santa Fe and at the Santa Clara Pueblo, where she began building with natural materials at a very early age. Athena and Bill are co-founders of the Canelo Project, through which they conduct ecological design and construction workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. They live in Canelo, Arizona.Visit Athena and Bill's Blog, The Canelo Chronicles, at

Bill Steen is a photographer and collaborative builder who is especially interested in combining building techniques with community-enhancing approaches to design. Athena and Bill are co-founders of the Canelo Project, through which they conduct ecological design and construction workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

David A. Bainbridge first worked on community design, passive solar heating and cooling, building codes, and solar rights at the innovative design firm Living Systems. He described his first water-wall solar home and the Village Homes solar subdivision in Solar House Designs in 1978. Founder of the Passive Solar Institute, and recipient of the ASES Passive Pioneer Award in 2004, Bainbridge consults on a wide range of residential and commercial projects and has completed several solar projects on his own homes, as well as co-authoring The Straw Bale House (with Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen), and Passive Solar Architecture (with Ken Haggard). He is currently Associate Professor of Sustainable Management at the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management. He lives in San Diego, California.

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