There are so many things about this building for a TreeHugger to love. It's straw, the up and coming ultimate renewable resource. But conventional strawbale construction is slow, and if the stuff gets wet it is a problem, so it's prefabricated,, built in a nearby shed. The straw is compressed into a wood frame, made of our favorite cross-laminated timber. And it couldn't get more local; you can see the field that was the source of the straw from the building.
It is built with a variant of the MODCELL system that we have seen in the BaleHaus
The architects, MAKE, describe it:
Consciously contextual, the design was influenced by the campus's agricultural heritage and strong sustainability policy. Taking inspiration from the rhythm of the line of trees adjacent to the site, the facade is innovatively formed from prefabricated modular straw bale panels, locally produced using straw sourced from the University's own farmland.
Each 14m long panel consists of a cross-laminated timber frame filled with compressed straw and finished externally with render to provide a breathable coating that prevents decay and protects the straw from the external environment. These panels were prefabricated in an off-site 'flying factory' using local labour and delivered ready to be put in place.
Hattie Hartman of the Architects Journal is impressed.
This is the ultimate in locally sourced materials. Forget BedZed’s 25-mile radius for sourcing – you can look out of the Gateway Building’s generous windows and see the fields where the straw was harvested. In fact, it was Make’s proposal for a straw construction which clinched them the commission, according to Tim Brooksbank the university’s development director. Ironically, the casual passer-by would never know it is made of straw. The only place where the straw is visible is in the entrance atrium, where three ‘truth’ windows cut into the interior surface of the timber cassettes reveal what’s inside.
Watch the funny and informative video, perfect for small children who love big construction. More at MAKE