Last weekend we got to visit the Whole Tree Construction, straw bale house that we helped build last year. Doug and I participated in a 6-day strawbale, clay wall workshop. (See posts Straw bale – Bending Walls , Stitching Straw Bales Makes Strong Walls, and Earthen Clay on Straw Bales – a Match Made in Heaven. )
Kara House was designed and built for two sisters of the Wheaten Franciscan Order , which focuses on
- Promoting peace;
- Effecting reconciliation;
- And being in solidarity with the poor; thus,
- Bringing hope to all.
That makes for worthwhile organization to this non-religious observer, and meeting Marge and Gabriel, reinforced reinforced my positive impression. These two sisters built their home at The Christine Center which has turned 125 acres in central Wisconsin into a spiritual retreat, where cottages cluster near a environmentally-conscious, central-meeting and dining complex.
It was a pleasure to be there for six days of camping, building in the woods and eating hearty, vegetarian fare with the center’s various pilgrims. I’ve been looking forward to the time when we could return and see how the house turned out.
I’m also eager to see any other whole tree houses I can at this point before we finalize our plans and start building next spring.
Every Whole Trees house is a combination of accumulating green-building craft and nudging the frontiers of sustainable construction. It’s reassuring and illuminating to see what has come before as we get ready to inch forward.
Here is a photo essay of what we saw.
This house is straw bale with a sod roof. and passive solar design. The entrance is between the two round rooms. The room on the left is a studio, and the room on the right is the kitchen/dining/living room.
1. You don’t lose things in the bottom of drawers or the back of the cabinet.
2. You can’t cram them so full, and it keeps one from accumulating excess items.
Though I have conventional cabinets in my current kitchen, I’m looking forward to having open storage in our place next year.Extending from the circular main room is a wing that contains bedrooms, bath, mechanicals and a study.Whole tree rafters and live-edge trim makes a room feel very connected to the source of its materials.
Both circular rooms are topped with a tractor tire rim and a sky light.
It was very gratifying to see the finished home that we worked on. This project really gave us a feel for how whole tree timbers, straw bale and clay can come together. Every step is so direct and logical, yet every step is also personal and hand-crafted. It felt really good to work with these materials, and they make amazing dwellings.
Categories: Eco architecture