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Straw-Clay Solar
Environs of Brodhead , Wisconsin

Handmade Homestead

This family of six began with a thoroughgoing commitment to building themselves a very ‘green’, low-impact homestead. They carefully evaluated Design Coalition’s work with natural materials and techniques, visited Lou’s home, and finally decided that they would take on the challenge of building with straw and clay themselves.

The passive solar design that followed from this decision is a unique plan that could be completed in stages. The spacious first floor could accommodate everyone for as long as it took to finish the four bedrooms upstairs. Among the home's features: a masonry heater; first floor earth berming and root cellar; earthen floor for solar thermal mass; natural earthen plasters, and solar roof orientation for domestic hot water collectors.

The family hosted a natural home-building workshop that also served as a shakedown session our newly developed equipment: high-shear mixers and sequential tanks to refine site-dug clay and then a tumbler-and-pump system to mix clay slip with straw. The "community-built" aspect of the home construction continues, with friends contributing much welcome volunteer labor.

Discovery Channel's Invention Nation television program chose the straw-clay home to explain the techniques of modern straw-clay construction.
All ages can plaster with earth-based mixes.

The North side of the house is buried into the earth to help deflect Winter winds and conserve heat.

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