Ballast Nedam to build straw houses in quest for sustainable model

Dutch builder Ballast Nedam Development will build eight houses with prefabricated straw panels after holding a contest, called “Nature House” (Natuurhuis in Dutch) to find the best design for a scalable, climate-positive house.

The winning concept, put forward by designer architecten|en|en, a partner of Strotec, and contractor Bouwbedrijf Van Herpen, will be piloted in the North Brabant village of Heeze, with construction scheduled to start in mid-2023, the company said.

It said it wants to “introduce the new normal for living in the Netherlands and unleash a materials transition”.

Strotec supplies prefabricated straw panels made by EcoCocon. Ballast Nedam said the modules are load-bearing up to five layers, insulate well and store CO2 from the atmosphere. The panel is certified, making it suitable to build with at scale.

The use of straw and other “bio-based” materials mean the construction of each house saves 90 tonnes of CO2 compared with conventional materials, the company said.

In addition, the houses will generate more electricity than they use.

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