The Smith Straw Bale Studio is a 900 square foot post and beam straw bale infill cabin located in a remote area near Tecate, Mexico. This project was a collaboration with Audrey Ruland from Ruland Design Group.
The building process started with a beautiful, old stonewall footing from a previous building. We used flexible forms to create a slab that followed the existing line, and poured an inner footing and set the posts to the inside of the wall allowing for good attachment to the slab. We came up with a system with interchangeable sides that allow us to round the edges of the windows on the interior and the exterior. The windows can be set in enough to achieve the classic ‘straw bale look’ without creating the difficult flashing requirements of deeply set windows. We flashed the windows so any water that might get behind the window will be daylighted out under the sill. We used Trex for window sills, cutting a drip edge into each one.
The bales got fireproof by spraying the exterior walls with slip (a mixture of clay and water). metal wire/lath was required in this building for extra shear reinforcement. The large overhangs protect the walls, making clay plaster a good choice. Three coats of plaster went on these walls, the interior plaster integrates some salvaged wood lintels and a truth window.