Collection by Aaron Britt

Santa Cruz Home's 'Bale Raising'


For "Gotta Bale," the Off the Grid story in our October 2012 issue, we visit the Santa Cruz, California, home of college professors Bernie Tershy and Erika Zavaleta. Though there's a lot that makes this Arkin Tilt Architects–designed home green, a key feature is the staw-bale insulation on the street-facing wall of the home. Arkin Tilt has a score of straw-bale houses under its belt and the firm shared a few behind-the-scenes shots with Dwell to help us understand just how Tershy and Zavaleta's house came together.

Before setting any straw in the walls, Arkin Tilt had to design a support system tailor made for big bales of hay.
It was a community affair getting all the straw bales into place.
Here's a view of what the facade looked like when it was made just of straw.
The wooden post on seen here is actually a structural support and a piece of driftwood that the family salvaged from...
Workers install bales in the wall that will eventually make up the divide the living room from Bethany Curve, a...
Once the bales are all in place, Arkin Tilt covers them with a welded wire mesh before they get their finishing touches.
Lime plaster goes on over the wire mesh and seals in all the qualities you want in a good wall of insulation: heavy,...