From bale related

The straw bale buildings at Deer Park Monastery nominated for an Orchid Award

Sisters at Deer Park Monastery enjoying a cup of teaThe straw bale buildings we helped build for the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Escondido were nominated for an Orchid award in the 2016 “Orchids & Onions” by the San Diego Architecture Foundation.

 

 

 

“Deer Park Monastery- Nun’s Residence

The form—based on a traditional Spanish Hacienda embracing a central courtyard with plantings—encourages togetherness and provides opportunities for interaction between residents.  Covered walkways extend the living space outdoors, taking advantage of our temperate climate and integrating awareness of the natural world into activities like walking to the shower.  All rooms are accessed through the central courtyard, helping eliminate the expense and space requirements of interior hallways.

The detached buildings help enclose the courtyard, providing a sense of protection and defining the core of the residences.  This arrangement allows Deer Park Monastery to build within the existing pad and provide fire department access without building a large road around the buildings. This design also allows for phased construction that can help meet the project’s current budget, while being mindful of possible future expansion as funds allow.

Thick strawbale walls and operable windows provide thermal comfort for the buildings atop the hill which receive plentiful daylight and breezes. A beautiful garden setting incorporating existing cypress trees and views to the rest of the monastery will make this new residence a comfortable place to visit and live.

Clay Plaster Interior Detail Deer Park Monastery

NATURE-CENTERED DESIGN FEATURES

  1. Sensitive siting in the area of existing buildings and roads minimizes the impact on the natural surroundings.
  2. Passive solar design lets the sun help heat the space and uses shade to stay cool. This helps reduce the need for mechanical systems and electricity.
  3. The narrow footprint along with operable windows optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation.
  4. Indoor / outdoor living is encouraged by covered walk-ways and central courtyard.
  5. Super-insulated strawbale walls repurpose agricultural waste as a building material and provide comfortable, quiet interiors.
  6. Plastered bale walls provide thermal mass, passively maintaining interior temperature
  7. A metal roof with recycled steel content limits solar heat gain through its reflective finish.
  8. High-efficiency glazing reduces heat gain
  9. Fire-resistive materials provide durability along with timeless beauty
  10. Rainwater catchment and greywater re-use supplies landscape irrigation.”Deer Park Monastery New Nunnery Building A

Straw Bale Open House-in-Process, 9/11/16

openhousebalerainbowIMG_4693v2Sunday, September 11th, noon-3pm, The Wakeham Project, Solana Beach, CA

A rare opportunity to tour a straw bale house under construction! Come talk with the builders and check out how the straw bales go together to form the walls in this 1600 sq ft, two-story straw bale home designed by Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. This is the only time this job site will be open to the public until the project is completed, so don’t miss it!

 

 

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Check out the campaign to get Living Building Challenge certification

Update: WOW! The homeowners of this project have been so inspired by the response to this campaign that they have decided to match any donation DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR in this last week of fundraising, up to $2,000! That means that the effect of any donation you make between now and Aug 28 will be doubled. I feel like a used car salesman yelling at you from your TV, but this is a REALLY BIG DEAL for this campaign. If we can raise just $1,250 more, all of the out-of-pocket costs of this certification will be covered and we will happily donate our time to build the website, and do the research & documentation knowing that our community believes in what we are doing. Thanks for your support!

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Are you interested in helping to promote natural materials, straw bale building, energy efficiency, and simple design? Then check out our fundraising campaign to get our current straw bale, adobe, and straw-clay project certified through the Living Building Challenge! LBC is a rigorous and holistic metric that only a handful of buildings in the world have met. Let’s inspire more people to build this way by showing that simple and natural can be extraordinary!

Please share this link and help us get the word out: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/straw-bale-home-seeks-highest-certifications/x/5658336#/

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Our sincere thanks to our funders so far:

Luke Morton, Darcey Donovan, Allen Olston, Jim Furness of Furness Construction Inc., Sarah Matthews, Toni Tasker, David Weir, Deanna Moore, Pete Tasker, Yoshi Makino, Lesley Christiana, Ed Earl of Priority 1 Projects, Michael Hornsby, Richard Fleiss, Jay Flynn, Mary Speare, Bob & Marty Kvaal, Bob Theis, Kerstin Sjoquist, Adam Pascu of 73 Degrees Realty, Teri Nirr, Tom Wanderer, Frank Golbeck, Martin Hammer, Jon Williams, Brook Sarson, Emily Reynolds, Bert Reuss, Donald McSwain, Ian Harrison, the California Straw Building Association, Drew Hubbell, Stevan de la Rosa, Bea Alvarez, Stephen McCabe, and Dadla Ponizil.

Our straw bale project seeks LBC Net Zero!

We are excited to announce that our current straw bale project, the Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, is now registered with the Living Building Challenge seeking Net Zero Energy Building certification, which is a rigorous standard that will verify that the project used the land appropriately, considered beauty, and that this home is so energy efficient that it makes as much energy as it uses.

If you are not familiar with the Living Building Challenge, it is a holistic program that evaluates beauty, toxicity, equity, health, as well as energy and water efficiency. Currently, there are only 11 fully certified buildings in the world!
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Santa Cruz Straw Bale Building Workshop – 7/7 to 7/10/16

Want to get hands-on and learn a lot about straw bale building in a short time from knowledgable teachers? Check out this 3 day straw bale building workshop presented by the CA Straw Building Association in Santa Cruz, CA in July. You’ll get to work on a real straw bale home alongside professionals like Jim Reiland of Many Hands Builders, David Arkin of Arkin-Tilt Architects, Michele Landegger of Boa Constructor, and us, Mike Long & Rebecca Tasker of Simple Construct, as well as other CASBA members. With a high teacher-to-student ratio and experienced administrators, this should be a great workshop!

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3 Day Straw Bale Building Workshop

CASBA Straw Bale Building Conference 4/21 – 4/24/16

The California Straw Building Association invites you to attend our annual conference. This year’s conference celebrates CASBA’s 20th anniversary and the amazing progress we’ve made bringing straw bale and other forms of natural, low-carbon building to life. Join this diverse range of building experts gathering to share, discuss, and collaborate. There will be presentations, tours, panel discussion, and hands-on demonstrations, all set against the beautiful backdrop of spring wildflowers in the Carrizo Plain.

Simple Construct will be there presenting “Buddhists, Bales, and Building Science;” participating in a panel discussion on Plaster, Moisture, and Durability; and showing our recent work. We hope to see you there!

More info and registration here.

Tour the straw bale buildings at the Deer Park Monastery 10/4/15

A rare opportunity to tour the new straw bale buildings at the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery

Four curved straw bale buildings wrap around a central courtyard. A covered breezeway made of reclaimed timber connects them.  With graceful super-insulated
straw bale walls and passive solar orientation, these buildings will help the Sisters live comfortably in-tune with nature. Natural ventilation, efficient heating and cooling systems, greywater and rainwater systems, and a large PV array give these buildings a lighter footprint.

We are proud to have been part of this remarkable project and invite you to tour the site as part of the USGBC’s annual Green Homes Tour. With 9 sites on this year’s Tour, there is sure to be something of interest to everyone. See the brochure for more infoTourDP

This may be your only chance to tour these buildings at Deer Park. Three of them will be the private residences for the nuns and one will be Thich Nhat Hanh’s home when he visits, so once they are completed, they will not be open to the public. Please join us on Sunday Oct 4 for a chance to tour of these lovely buildings.

We hope to see you there!
Rebecca & Mike, Simple Construct

 

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Tour de Bale – straw bale home tour May 31st

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Thanks to everyone who came out for the Tour! 160+ people at 12 straw bale houses!


 

Tour de Bale – straw bale home tour in San Diego

Sunday, May 31, 2015, noon-4pm at locations all over San Diego County

 

Experience for yourself some of the beautiful, efficient, & natural straw bale buildings in San Diego County!

Straw bale homes are unique, energy-efficient, and healthier for people and for the environment. They are more fire-proof than conventional houses and perform well in earthquakes. San Diego County is home to more than 56 permitted straw bale buildings in a variety of sizes and styles. On Sunday May 31st, join the self-guided Tour de Bale and visit straw bale homes in locations near you including:

  • San Diego
  • Fallbrook
  • Jamul
  • Vista
  • Poway
  • Borrego Springs

Knowledgable homeowners, owner-builders, builders, designers, architects, and CASBA volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions about this wonderful way to build.

Registration is $10 per individual, couple, or family. This fee covers the cost associated with the tour and any profit will go to the the California Straw Building Association.

Get your tickets here.

More info:

www.tourdebale.com

Facebook event page

Dreaming Small

SBshedworkshop260In elementary school, I was obsessed with building my own house. I just really wanted my own space within four freestanding walls. It didn’t need to be large, just big enough for a bed and a desk. Having no idea how to build a house, I cut out pictures of ready-made sheds from the hardware store mailers and tried to save my allowance to buy a shed to turn into a house in a corner of my parents backyard. Ultimately, I couldn’t manage to save that kind of money and eventually the idea faded into the background. But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for little, bitty houses.

CASHP106_low_cropAs a graduate of art school, I got first-hand experience living tiny, since a 600 sq ft apartment in Boston was all I could afford. Later, a move across country led me to a 400 sq ft freestanding home. There are clear advantages and plenty of restrictions that come with living in a small space. As someone who likes to make things (and usually a mess in the process), having space for tools and projects was an issue. I needed a tiny house to live in and a tiny workshop to make in.

library-built-by-ex-slaves-allensworth-ca-copy2The growth of the Tiny House movement of the last ten years has delighted me. I have questions about how realistic of the concept of a tiny house on wheels for all can be, but giving a name to a desire is powerful and can help people come together to move large, seemingly-immoveable things like building regulations.

As I began to help build houses and then design and build houses, the first of the Four R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) is always on my mind. To me, one of the highest goals of design is to do more with less; to achieve the goal without wasted space or materials or resources or money.

A few years ago, we were traveling to attend a conference in Northern California and needed a place to camp. We ended up finding Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, which turned out to be a restored tiny ghost town: a village of small buildings in the middle of what had become nowhere when the train stopped going there. It has a fascinating history and was a delightful experience.

workshopdoneIMG_0615With some extra time on our hands during the slow times in construction, we decided to help a friend build a tiny straw bale building in his backyard. We designed it, poured the slab, framed the walls and roof, and had two workshops to teach people about stacking straw bales and applying clay plaster. It was a deeply satisfying experience.

More recently, I have fallen in love with the Pocket Neighborhood idea and spend time dreaming of building a collection of exquisitely designed tiny straw bale homes with excellent privacy and shared amenities, such as a garden and a community room for hosting the occasional big party that doesn’t fit in a cozy home.

Just as my kindergarten teacher’s pronouncement of having cured me of my obsession with clay foreshadowed a life-long affair with the stuff, my fascination with little-bitty-just-enough-houses has endured and informs my work today.

volunteer opportunities

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THE WORKDAYS ARE NOW FULL, NO MORE REGISTRATIONS CAN BE ACCEPTED.

The dates for the workdays have been released and the few remaining spots will fill up fast.

There will be 3 workdays where you can to volunteer to help stack bales and apply clay plasters, coming up this winter at the Deer Park Monastery in Escondido. The workdays will be run by the Monastery and may fill up quickly.

For info on future events like these, join our email list (click the envelope button at the bottom of the page).