Clay and straw as modern building materials

In the Kaatsheuvel district of Westwaard, BPD is realizing 25 single-family homes in a very sustainable way. By using natural and inexhaustible materials such as loam and straw, it becomes clear that sustainability is so much more than energy saving. “Straw is one of the oldest building materials we know of, but it fully meets all modern requirements,” says project manager Daniel Melis.

Type Topic
Date 6 November 2020
Topic
Clay and straw as modern building materials
Photo by Bernard Hermant

The vision is clear: sustainability is more than just energy neutral. In Westwaard, in the municipality of Kaatsheuvel above Tilburg, BPD designs 25 sustainable homes that are constructed as much as possible from “biobased” materials. The houses will have a shell construction system with panels that are built from the natural and inexhaustible building materials wood and straw. They are finished on the inside with clay plaster. They are ancient building materials – faded into obscurity over time because of the need to build quickly and functionally, especially during reconstruction – but they meet all contemporary requirements.

The straw panels have a strong insulating effect. By also using triple glazing, the straw houses will soon have much better insulation than is legally required under the Building Decree. And by making the facades “vapor-open”, optimum moisture and CO2 regulation is created and the rooms get excellent acoustics.

Low energy requirement due to high insulation value

Due to the high insulation value, the homes in Westwaard have a considerably lower energy requirement than traditionally built homes. “The energy that is nevertheless required is generated sustainably with solar panels,” says Melis. “The houses will receive a heat pump for heating and hot water and we will recover heat from ventilation air.”

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