Straw-bale Research Building at the University of Manitoba

Straw-bale Research Building at U of M

Straw-bales from wheat fields near Beausejour, MB. (Photo: Om Joshi) Various partners of the project


Straw-bale construction is still in its formative years. During this time, when conservation practices are being given more importance than ever, it is gaining rapid support because it responds to the concerns and values of our times. This construction technique is more sustainable and is a sound building process because it is inclusive, empowering, and community building, making this approach certainly a step in the right direction. 

As discussed by Kris Dick, it has been and continues to be a challenge to obtain building permits for such non-conventional buildings. Municipalities must develop guidelines for approving such unique building construction and effective procedures that streamline the application process. Reworking current building codes and inspections will no doubt have to be part of the overall solution and approach to straw-bales buildings.

The Straw-bale Research Building at the University of Manitoba is expected to create wide research opportunities that can become a national focal point in the fields of agricultural structures, alternative building techniques and alternative energy systems. The location of the building is somewhat isolated from the rest of the campus to best serve as a showcase to inform students, staff or visitors. As a research building it appears to be very successful, but if intended to be a demonstration project to support broader adoption, its location and form is less than ideal. To increase its visibility it needs to be added it to the standard campus map and featured in a link on the U of M main website to help demonstrate our innovation here on campus. Also descriptive signage (as there is no regular means to tour or be informed) and landscaping would be an improvement for for those who which to make a direct visit. It is a neat building but it could be much more.  

Approach to the research building. Photo: T.Pearce 2006
Views of the research building.