Man who runs his car on wood builds a home with straw and clay

December 2nd, 2010 by Richard Lord

During a recent visit to the Netherlands I came across a home being built with straw bale and clay walls.  I ventured inside the shell of the building and met John who was assisted by a straw bale building specialist from Poland.  John was slapping a mixture of clay and straw onto the interior of the walls so we didn’t shake hands but he spoke excellent English and was enthusiastic about what he was doing.

A home being built in Haps, The Netherlands with straw bale walls covered in straw and clay. I presume the chimney on the left is for a wood burning stove (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Five flat plate solar thermal panels for heating water sit on the roof (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

I told John that I was interested in sustainable homes.  He said that the building wasn’t as sustainable as it could be because the base of the walls were brick. Evidently the most sustainable home is made of as much local and on-site material as possible.  There were a couple of bathtubs in the back garden where it appeared the mixing of straw and clay took place.

At the back of the house, bath tubs where the render had been prepared (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

I had very little time to speak with John as I was passing through but in the few minutes we spoke he told me to look up French man Tom Rijven who is known for his straw bale and earth buildings and Ianto Evans who is known for cob buildings.

A long overhang protects the walls from rain. Straw bale houses resist fire and rodents well but they need to be built with specific techniques to protect the straw from water. It is very important that the straw is dry before use (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

An interior wall showing the straw bales covered in a clay render (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

During the five minutes I spent with John he told me he had the only car in the Netherlands that runs on wood.  He built a stainless steel wood gasifier that sits on a platform at the rear of his Volvo 240.  His website describes how he modified his Volvo to run on wood.  His Volvo travels about two miles per kilo of wood; it can reach a top speed of 74 mph and cruise at about 65 mph.

1 Response to “Man who runs his car on wood builds a home with straw and clay”

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