Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
Architect Michael Cobb prefers using natural building materials—like straw bales and rammed earth—in his structures; however, he often finds them to be cost prohibitive due to the extra fortifications needed to meet California’s seismic requirements. “Things that have the virtue of being simple have become some of the most complicated forms of construction,” he says. Then Cobb discovered Agriboard, a structural insulated panel made from oriented strand board and a compressed agricultural fiber core, which he used to construct a weekend house for a young family in Healdsburg, California. “It represents an affordable way to build with relatively unprocessed materials,” he says.