Hastoe launches film about new straw bale houses

Hastoe has just released exclusive time-lapse footage of the build process of four new ‘straw bales’ homes in High Ongar, Essex.

High OngarThe aim of the film is to share knowledge within the industry and showcase the build process of a housing development which uses straw as insulation.

The film, produced by 7video, features two sets of time-lapse footage, interviews with key people involved and the new residents.

High Ongar is the first development of straw bale housing built in Britain by a housing association and was officially opened by Eric Pickles MP in September. The two 2-bedroom and two 3-bedroom houses were developed by Hastoe Housing Association in partnership with Epping Forest District Council. The houses have been let at affordable rents to families on the Council’s housing register. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) contributed a grant of £92,000. The properties were designed by architects, Parsons + Whittley, and constructed by DCH, a local contractor based in Coggeshall. The straw bales used were a sustainable by-product of farming and the bales were sourced from a local farm - Williams Brothers.
There are a number of benefits of using straw bales within housing. Whilst the costs of construction are similar to costs of conventional construction, residents will benefit from lower fuel costs than for heating similar homes of traditional construction.Structural parts of the houses, such as the walls, were built using timber frames, in-filled with the straw bales. The walls were covered externally with a lime render. The character of straw bales houses suits the rural location of the site at Millfield, overlooking farmers’ fields. With clay tile roofs the houses incorporate natural materials and have a slightly rustic quality, although overall they have the appearance of conventional homes. The timber porches are roofed with sedum plants.

Since the straw absorbs carbon dioxide as it is growing, it is widely accepted that buildings of this type of construction have a low carbon footprint. Tests on other straw bale structures by the University of Bath have established that they are strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds up to 120mph - enough to defy the huff and puff of any big bad wolf! They also have a fire rating at least double the requirements of Building Regulations.

Hastoe’s Business Development Director, Kevin Hartnett, said: “We are delighted with this film which captures the build process of the High Ongar houses as exclusive time-lapse footage. This is completely unique footage which we believe will be very useful for sharing learning with others in the sector. The High Ongar project is exemplar and we are pleased to showcase this within the film.”

7 Video’s Managing Director, Peter Sims, said: “It has been very exciting for the 7video team to work on this project with Hastoe. Not only is it unique but also a learning curve for us in how these traditionally-inspired properties are built. Using our time-lapse equipment we were able to capture the most visual parts of the build from a fixed position above the site. We then visited the site on five separate occasions to capture footage and interview those involved. From this we were able to produce the final film which we are really pleased with.

“Everyone we met was very helpful and eager to see the finished houses. It was great to be able to show the whole process in just a few minutes. In total we shot time-lapse footage for eight months as well as capturing over five hours of real time footage and interviews. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those people involved who helped make the film come to life.”

Watch the film below:

To see the previous press release including further quotes from those involved, click here.


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