Building with Straw: 6 Exotic and Cheap Ideas! | homify

Building with Straw: 6 Exotic and Cheap Ideas!

Leigh Leigh
BR ARQUITECTOS Paredes e pisos tropicais
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Often straw is overlooked as a material but for South African architecture it is wonderful in that it is economical and you can use it in abundance.

Using coarse sand, clay and chopped straw can create the perfect insulation for a structure. It's also great for the support of a prefabricated structure. This is a resource that is found in abundance, so you should utilise it!

The mixture of these materials is known as adobe or adobe walls, which can be used for foundations, columns and concrete slabs. This a very traditional building technique, used as far back as in colonial architecture. 

Woven straw can also create a beautiful, supportive ceiling that keeps the room below it temperate.

Let's be inspired by straw today!


Straw has been used as a material for roofs and walls since the beginning of time. It is a traditional material in building, which has been passed down from father to son since the time of slavery. The materials can be also be braided into straw bales.

The material is very strong, which is why when it comes to creating an eco-friendly roof that is of high quality and durable, like we can see in this design by professionals Junco Africano, straw is the way to go. It is also waterproof and fire resistant. This makes it a very safe material to use, which can be utilised for pergolas, parasols and ceilings.

This designer has been using this material for houses, hotels, summer villas, restaurants and conference facilities – that's how versatile it is.

Braiding with a wooden structure

You can also braid straw onto prefabricated iron or wood frames, allowing you to create an economically viable structure that can be constructed quickly. It will also give this structure a true African look and feel.

Clay, stone, wood and straw

Not only does straw serve as a great material for roofing and ceilings, but it can also be used for construction.

This house belongs to a bio-climatic eco-village, featuring a concrete foundation and raw materials for the structure. The columns, beams and reinforcements are all made from eucalyptus wood. The wooden roof brings texture and tone to the space, contrasting beautifully with the lighter facade that is made from plastering sand, clay and straw.

Have a look at these: Tips for making your home roar with raw materials.

Pergola made from straw

In South Africa, we often need an outdoor space where we can relax in the shade during the hot summer months especially if we have a swimming pool. A pergola is a great solution!

Straw covers for outdoor structures like the pergola have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. They are very valuable across the world.

Pair a straw pergola with some beautiful palm trees and some gorgeous flowers and plants in your garden and you'll have the trendiest backyard in town.

Do you see in this design, by Arquitetuba, there is the feeling of peace and well-being? This is because the whole design works in harmony with the nature that surrounds it. You can achieve this too!

Thatched roofs

Thatched roofs are very common in tropical climates, given the abundance of palms in this region. In South Africa, you can often find them in KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. 

If constructed properly, a thatch roof can last between 30 and 50 years. This depends on the builder, the slope of the roof and quality of the palm. It also depends on if it is tied, braided or intertwined during the construction process.

The disadvantage is that thatch is very flammable so it needs to be treated and maintained. You don't want any bugs or fungus developing in it either. Because of these disadvantages, you may find a synthetic version of this material because of how beautiful it is. 

Have a look at this tropical paradise home for inspiration when it comes to a tropical style!

For the umbrella

You have to agree that if you don't have a pergola, an umbrella is the perfect place to relax in the garden or on the beach. It also adds a rustic aesthetic to a space, transforming a plain and simple exterior into what looks like a beach holiday!

This umbrella features a pine or iron mast, which should be treated so that it lasts a long time. The iron or wood spokes provide stability during all of the weather conditions. Once this is constructed, all you need to do is install the straw. This is an umbrella that will last you more than 20 years, making it totally worth it.

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