SBUK – A new voice for strawbale building in the UK

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Advocates of straw bale building in the UK met on Friday 23rd October 2015, at the SPAB offices in Spitalfields, London, to decide a way forward for the industry in the UK.

The initial meeting was organised and chaired by Jeffrey Hart, and attendees included Joe Duirwyn, Barbara Jones, Eileen Sutherland, Rowland Keable, Phil Christopher, Glyn Clark, Jim Carfrea, Sally Mareike, Dave Copeland, Jules, Nico, Mary Rawlinson, Natasa Lackovic, Cypren Edmunds, Simone Ruschmier and Catalin Filip.

After introductions, we discussed and identified the need for an organisation to represent and promote straw bale building in the UK.  Other European countries already have similar organisations and Eileen said we were the only country at the recent, two-yearly, European Straw Bale Gathering (ESBG) that did not have a national organisation.  It is thought that national groups will in future be able to work together across Europe and beyond as part of the recently founded European Straw Bale Association.

Rowland from Earth Building UK and Ireland (EBUKI) very kindly shared much of EBUKI’s experience to date in creating a national organisation to present their interests.  From this it was decided we should set up the group as a clear legal entity – yet to be decided – but there was broad support the organisation should be not for profit.  We also discussed establishing ‘red lines’ from the start, i.e. fixed lines the group would not cross when considering what is acceptable in straw bale building.  These would be parts of the aims and objectives of the group that would establish the kind of of buildings we would want to see and endorse.  For example, a building containing ‘x’ would not be endorsed.  Various other suggestions were put forward as discussion points for the aims and objectives of the group, many of which, due to time constraints, are currently being discussed collaboratively online, and will be discussed further at the next meeting on 27th November.

And what about the name?  After much discussion, including how important or not the word ‘bale’ is, we decided we would operate under the name SBUK – Strawbale Building UK.  As well as being short and snappy, SBUK sits us nicely alongside EBUKI, with whom we will presumably have many shared aims.

Various action points were taken from the meeting by enthusiastic volunteers and we decided to meet again at the end of November to keep the momentum going.  After leaving the SPAB offices – and thank you very much to them for agreeing to host us, it’s very much appreciated – we adjourned to a local pub, where passionate straw-based conversation continued!

Are you interested in helping to shape the future of straw bale building in the UK?  If so, we’d be delighted to see you at the next SBUK meeting:

– Friday 27th November, at the University of Bath

If you’d like to attend, and for details, please send confirmation to [email protected]

SBUK can be found on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/StrawBaleUK and Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/StrawbalebuildingUK