The learning curve of June 2011
As Shimwell Designs considered the request from our clients to design and project manage their straw bale home, we obtained as much reading material as possible on the building method. The first and only material we found by a South African was the book written by architect, Andy Horn from Cape Town. All other information was written by overseas architects, interior designers and lay persons undertaking owner building projects.
We quickly became aware that there were no defined building codes for this method of construction and whilst it was a fairly common solution overseas; even there the councils signing of the plans imposed many different requirements depending on their knowledge or lack of knowledge in this arena.
As Africans we are still using this or similar forms of construction in our rural areas with great success, however it seems that conventional brick and mortar buildings have become a sign of status or wealth and our traditional buildings are often mentally linked to lack of socio economic development.
As we have investigated the benefits of natural building products and processes; we are saddened by this uninformed opinion, and hope to create further awareness by committing to this and other projects with greater vigour and determination.