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Monday, May 11, 2015

House Of Straw

I had a chance to pick up a little extra money, doing a few days work in the country- near Punta Del Este. And when I say country..... I mean way away from anyone. Off the grid. UTE has not even put power lines out this far, so we worked off a generator. But what an interesting house this was. The owner has been building on it for almost a year and it is far from finished, even now. A crew of about 4-5 workers is doing the work.

I went with Jim, my neighbor and employer, in 2 day shifts, and camped out overnight, with Jim providing the food. Except for the mosquitos, it was very enjoyable. The second time I went, I brought a mosquito net and had a much easier time of it.

The house, besides being in the middle of farmland (the cows mooed all night long) had a number of interesting features, which made working there a challenge.

First of all, the owner had bought about 25 huge windows, with stained glass inserts (the larger ones arched tops) from a mansion being demolished. And when I say huge... the big ones were 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It was all that Jim and I could do to lift the frame, without the window panels in place. Jim has taken on the task of renovating, sanding and painting the windows. It is painstaking work and anybody who knows me, knows that I do not like to paint. Still, it was a refreshing change of pace and I am glad I had the opportunity.

Straw Light Panel in Place
Another unique thing about this house is the use of straw light panels. The workers have a pit, where they mix the clay and straw together, then stuff it into pre-made forms in the wall. The use of both clay and straw should produce quite an insulation factor. I have heard that there is lots of "green" building going on in the Punta area.

They mix the lay and straw together

Finally- the quincho style roof was breathtaking. It was more a work of art than a roofing system. It looks like it was sculpted. And the inside of the house is going to be very spacious. And while it should prove to be very cool in the summer, I am not sure how warm it will be with all of those single paned windows in the house. Still the straw light panels should provide good insulation.

 On the last day, we got to work on the new (read, very old) front door. It was actually fun to see such work and have a hand in restoring it.

Jim filling a crack in the door
Some of the detail carving
So, while this may end up being house of straw, no wolf is going to huff and puff and blow the whole thing down. When it is finished- it should last a good long time.

1 comment:

Erin said...

I'd love to see photos (and descriptions!) of this project as it progresses - and especially when it's finished! Beautiful!