Another very unique project was the engineering and construction activities on the Straw House Market in Helena, MT. During the summer and fall of 2003, Odisea had a few “firsts” on this project.
This project was our first commercial bale engineering project. It was also our first seismic bale project, which required us to model the building using computers and test data from a structural test performed on bale walls at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. As far as we know, this model is one of a kind. No x-bracing was required, as the plaster skins were used to resist earthquake loading.
Odisea also constructed the bale walls, which made it our first commercial bale construction project. We spent 4 months in Helena working on the walls and applying the base coats of plaster. An elaborate moisture monitoring system was installed by Laura Bartels of Greenweaver Inc. so the walls can be monitored over the life of the building in terms of diurnal fluctuations based on climate humidity and localized weather events.
When we commenced our work on the walls, we began by running a workshop stacking the bales. Over a hundred people showed up from around the Helena area to participate in an old-style bale-raising morning. In four hours we were able to stack 2/3 of the bales in the building.