stork’s nest in Esna
Last week, I was participating in the annual meeting of Baltic Ecovillage Network. In a mysterious and beautiful manor near the Estonian village Esna, the participants gathered to discuss vital aspects of eco-communities and future projects of the cooperation. Eventually, we visited Sven Aluste who lived nearby. Some time ago, he had moved with his family from the Tallin’s center to the countryside. Now, they have a pretty big land, inhabited with horses, ponies, donkeys, chickens, dogs and cats. There are many other things happening to add to this lively environment, since they offer various training courses in horse-riding, permaculture and natural building. And it is the latter I would like to talk a little more about.
building a straw-bale house, image credit Philipp
The use of natural techniques is becoming a new trend in building solutions. One of the examples of this are straw-bale houses.This approach to building has a very rich history starting from thousands of thousands years ago. The real boom was witnessed in the 1850s, when a mechanical hay baler was invented. What makes straw-bale houses so special in the light of sustainability pursuits is that they are made from renewable materials (straw and clay) and their insulation quality that reduce the need for heating and cooling. With enough experience and prepared materials, a one family house can be built for just two weekends. To ensure a long life of such a house, it is important to approach the building process with care and professionalism.
Sven Aluste’s new house made of reed-bale
One of such professionals is Sven himself. All of the buildings on his farm are built by him, and he is also continuously invited to help with other projects. Instead of straw, Sven uses reed as a material, which can be found in coastal areas.While designing houses, he pays attention to traditional architectural approaches, which add much cultural value to buildings. Inside, one can find a rocket stove covered with clay. Not only does it more efficiently burn wood, but also its pipe, which is stretched throughout the sleeping room, ensures that warm from steam is used to the fullest. Water heating panels, which Sven plans to install soon, and separate toilets add a lot to the environmental profile of this Estonian farm.
All this may seem small scale for making any substantial change, but if the trend develops and eventually involves high density communities, great results may follow.