The use of straw bales for building apparently originated in Nebraska, USA, following the introduction of horse and steam powered bailing machines a century or so ago. Farmers soon saw the value of using bales to built temporary shelters but, having realized their potential to stand up to the weather, they began using them to construct more permanent structures.
Straw has a lot going for it. It’s a renewable resource, a cheap byproduct of farming and absorbs carbon dioxide while it’s growing; what’s more it’s a great thermal insulator. This is why I recently found myself on a building site at High Ongar in Essex where Hastoe, in partnership with Epping Forest District Council, has constructed four straw bale houses The piece I wrote appeared in Show House magazine and you can read it here. House Planning Help has also recorded a podcast on straw bale with Mark Saich from Green Building Solutions.