House of Straw
Straw-bale housing construction, known for its flimsy role in the children's tale The Three Little Pigs, is making a comeback. After a brief period of popularity in the early 1900s, straw bale buildings lost favor in the 1940s. But tastes change, lumber is increasingly expensive and structures built of straw are springing up again. Many builders are discovering that straw bales in conjunction with simple post-and-beam technology and wood or stucco siding produce affordable and comfortable housing. For those interested in alternative building techniques, a 36-page quarterly publication, The Last Straw, is available for $8 a copy. The black-and-white journal is filled with photos and diagrams illustrating how straw bales can be economical, structurally sound and energy-efficient. Founded in 1993, the magazine offers up-to-date-information about building codes, fire prevention, insurance, moisture protection, insulation and architectural styles. Letters to the editor, who is "out on bale," are also fun. For more information or copies of The Last Straw, write to: Out On Bale, 1037 E. Linden St., Tucson, AZ 85719.
* Peter McBride