Set on a windswept hillside overlooking Scapa Flow is what is probably the UK’s most northerly straw bale house. At the stage of being wind and weather tight but not yet plastered internally, this is an example of a building with very low embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy. Even the footings avoid using concrete, being made of a base wall of local stone.
Designed to incorporate passive solar, the south facing windows are large and the first floor ones are partly shaded by the roof to avoid overheating in summer. The structure incorporates a timber frame and a balcony will be built on at first floor level. The roof has generous overhangs to help protect the walls, including the joinery of the windows and doors. The window and door jambs have the characteristic curved edge of straw bale buildings. This creates window reveals which admit more light and broaden the view from inside. The driving rain in this sort of location will provide a test for the quality of the harling. Even a relatively small ingress of water could lead to conditions of rot in the straw.
Next to the new house is an interesting example of a traditional stone slab roofed cow shed.