Rachel Shiamh’s Strawbale House in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK

Rachel Shiamh lived off-grid in a shed in her woodland in Wales, carrying water from a local spring, using candlelight, a gas stove and a compost loo. She loved it, but the shed was small, so she built a straw bale extension onto it with the help of some friends (like Barbara Jones from amazonails). From this humble start she has built what has become an iconic home winning the 2009 Grand Designs eco-house award.

Rachel Shiamh: Two storey loadbearing straw bale home

Rachel’s straw bale home in Pembrokeshire, Wales has no timber frame. The structure is made from straw bales alone pegged with hazel sticks. Her home was the first two storey load bearing straw bale house in the UK. The home stands on a hill up a narrow path above the 12th century St Dogmaels Abbey with a view over the estuary once a lookout spot for pirates. With such a narrow path through Rachel’s woodland the best way to bring materials to the site was by mule.

The partition wall behind Rachel’s wood burning stove stands on blue bottles where, in the winter, sunlight shines through them lighting up the room.

All images are from baubiologie.at by Herbert Gruber


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


photocredit: Herbert Gruber, asbn (www.baubiologie.at)


Herbert Gruber

Written by Herbert Gruber

Herbert is author of the book "Neues Bauen mit Stroh" (New Building with Straw), head of the austrian strawbale network ASBN and partner in the Leonardo-project "Strawbale Training for European Professionals (STEP). As a collector he documents European straw bale buildings since 1999 on his website (database, german), in lectures, workshops and books.

Website: http://www.baubiologie.at