Japanese Students Create Brilliant Straw Home Heated by Compost

by , 03/18/14

LIXIL, Waseda University, A Recipe To Live, straw, Architecture, Botanical, Recycling / Compost, Green Materials, energy efficiency, japan

The project, called “A Recipe To Live,” stands in the coastal town of Taiki-cho in Hokkaido. It was designed by students Masaki Ogasawara, Keisuke Tsukada and Erika Mikami to follow the natural cycles of the dairy farm town, which features many straw pastures.

During the hot summer months, the natural shelter dries straw inside transparent window shelves. These shelves serve as “heat shield panels,” and they release cool moisture as the straw dries. In the winter months, the straw is composted indoors to produce a source of heat through microbial fermentation. The house’s grass walls need to be changed a few times throughout the year, but they provide a natural system of heating and cooling that requires zero energy.


Photos by LIXIL

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  1. Andre Ewert March 12, 2015 at 12:09 am

    probably, using straw bales, prepped with nitrofen could grow food around the room, and the straw turning into compost releases heat..or it could be in an adjoining solarium with glass and massive passive solar

  2. yfnne March 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    awesome! every home could benefit from and give help to the earth around it. :)

  3. gfp March 23, 2014 at 2:54 am

    I like this idea, the heat from composting is efficient and reliable. Jean Pain (a french forester) used a huge cylinder of 8 m diameter and 2 m high of wood chip outside to heat both his hot water inlet and a anaerobic biodigester (it need heat and must be kept between 30 and 55 celcius). The biodigester produce enought methane to power a generator for is electricity, gaz to fuel his modified pick-up truck and a modified wood chipper. While the water keeps it from over heating it also is ready for usage most of the year and maybe a little bit colder in the winter but the conduct is isolated.
    In this case, the composting unit seems to be inside, if they don’t feed it too much water and balance correctly the ratio of Carbon / nitrate from 20/1 to 40/1. It won’t smell bad. Earthworm are great helper while dried straw are full of carbon. I would advise to set-up a composting toilet because urine and human shit is full of nitrate (not sure I would keep it inside but we could set up a thermal conduit connecting a central heating system to a composting unit located on the northern wall). I think there is a very small risk of fire from overheating because sawdust pile can start a fire by it’s own.
    Mike, in the winter all the windows are welcoming the sun while the microbial fermentation is kept inside, I almost fear overheating in the end of the evening because this house lack a bit of enthalpy (rock, concrete or earthship’s tire-earth wall would be good) while it has only a very small control in the long run (volume of fermentated straw) over it’s heating.
    Cow, I would use clay to seal the outer wall and to increase it’s isolation and reduce the risk of fire. Clay could be used to increase the enthalpy of the interior or to form the floor. But I don’t know how mud could reduce odor, beside by helping to form humus in a worm culture.
    Pertinent links: http://compost.css.cornell.edu/physics.html and http://www.weblife.org/humanure/chapter3_7.html

  4. Mike Venuto March 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    the problem with compost for a heating element is that it is not available with snow and ice in the winter?

  5. Cow D'Alessandro March 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I like this idea. The only thing I would worry about is that the low oder could become a stronger oder when heat is applied. Why not use mud instead?

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