The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes by Athena Steen & Bill Steen

Full of sumptuous photography, The Beauty Of Straw Bale Homes could easily be mistaken for just another dust gathering ‘coffee table’ book. But that would belie the power that this very modest little volume can have. In changing the status quo of building construction. Taking more than 40 buildings as mini case studies, it definitively showcases the arrival of straw bales as a bona-fide method of construction. Ranging between Mexico and Canada, snug little cottages to expansive houses onto vast monasteries and even retail stores all get a look in. You’ll certainly see how straw bales can run the gamut of quirky and rustic, right through to sleek and modern. The Steens were co-authors on the now classic, The Straw Bale House, widely credited with bringing this earth-friendly building technique to the world’s attention. Whereas that earlier book was much more of a ‘how-to’ digest, the newer ‘Beauty’ simply demonstrates, with delightful visuals, just what can be achieved. It does, however, include a few salient pointers on the likes of retrofitting, paints, plasters, roofs and costings. Be warned though, it would be a rare reader of this book, who after seeing how beautiful strawbale can be, did not then reach for one of those numerous technical tomes now available. You could soon have mud render on your hands and flecks of straw in your hair!

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