Open-Minded: For his straw-bale home, an architect tries something bolder—and more exposed to the elements—than normal.
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In California, not too long ago, rice farmers would dispose of their harvest residue by burning. In fact, they would torch as much as 1.7 million tons of rice straw annually. But the process spews multiple toxins into the atmosphere, and since 1991 state legislation has worked to stamp out the flames.
Just as post-harvest burns have decreased dramatically, so baling has increased. Now the rice industry’s detritus is a major component of straw bales, and in California the markets for supplying and constructing buildings with this ecologically friendly material have grown sophisticated. Emeryville, California–based Siegel & Strain Architects principal Henry Siegel, FAIA, took advantage of this massive shift when designing a weekend place for his family in Healdsburg, California…
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