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Straw Bale: Recommended Reading

Toby alluded in our first interview to a long list of books, websites, and workshops that guided the thinking behind the building of Square One. Here he graciously shares his list of favorites, along with a few notes about how they came in handy.

The Straw Bale House by Athena and Bill Steen and David Bainbridge and Eisenberg, 1994.
These two books (including the one listed below) by the Steen's provided the original inspiration to build with straw bale. As we started planning for the final lime plaster this year, it was interesting and fun to be in direct contact with Bill to get his feedback and suggestions.

The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes by Athena and Bill Steen, 2001.

A House of Straw: A Natural Building Odyssey by Carolyn Roberts, 2002.
Looking back now, this book probably prepared me more for the challenges and stress that came with building our own house. Carolyn's project was quite different than ours, but reading about an owner/builder and all the hoops she jumped through during the process was very helpful as we started jumping through hoops of our own.

Building with Awareness: The Construction of a Hybrid Home DVD and Guidebook by Ted Owens, 2006.
We watched this DVD maybe a dozen times and glanced through the guidebook regularly, as well. I purchased this shortly after reading the Steen books, and it was very useful during the entire process. It was also the first place I saw Stefan Bell, although I didn't know he was in Hokkaido until nearly two years later.

Design of Straw Bale Buildings: The State of the Art by Bruce King, 2006.
An invaluable resource that was referenced MANY times during the planning and building process. One of the authors in this book is Kelly Lerner, and she provided a lot of helpful information during the planning process. We went to one of her workshops in Winthrop, Washington, as well.

House Thinking: A Room-by-Room Look at How We Live by Winnifred Gallagher, 2006.
This book was extremely valuable during the design and layout phase of Square One. It was good to see what rooms we love, why we love them so much, and then plan accordingly. A great book that I'm glad I stumbled upon...after reading the next one in the list!

The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions by Winnifred Gallagher, 2007.
I read this book as we were thinking of moving back to Hokkaido from Seattle. It helped us make that big decision to settle in Higashikawa. A wonderful read that also influenced the layout of Square One.

Strawbale Home Plans by Wayne Bingham and Colleen Smith, 2007.
We referenced this book often during the planning process as we were figuring out what type of house we wanted Square One to become.

The Natural Plaster Book: Earth, Lime, and Gypsum Plasters for Natural Homes (Natural Building Series) by Cedar Rose Guelberth, Dan Chiras, and Deanne Bednar, 2002.
A late purchase, but over these last couple of months it has proven to be incredibly valuable as we prepare for the final coat on the outside of our walls to protect them from the nasty wind driven rain for decades to come.

Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks, and Techniques (Natural Building Series) by Kaki Hunter
I met Kaki and her husband, Doni, at an SEI "Natural Building" workshop in Colorado. Their speciality is earthbag building, which also involves plastering and natural building as a whole. We've referenced their book many times during this whole process. We're giving serious thought to using Earthbags for our carport/storage shed.

The Great Neighborhood Book: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Placemaking by Jay Walljasper and Project for Public Spaces, 2007.
A book we purchased a long time ago and are still working our way through. It focuses on community and neighborhood building, which is something we are very much looking forward to spending more time on once we truly get settled. The community concept of Green Village, where Square One is located, was integral to our decision to build in this very sustainable location.


Anjuli said…
Thank you so much for including this list of books!!!
Glad you liked them, Anjuli. I'm looking forward to delving into a few of them myself!

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