PREFAB FRIDAY: ModCell’s Stunning Straw-bale Prefab Homes

by , 01/08/10

ModCell, Balehouse, strawbale, straw bale, straw bale construction, prefab, prefab friday, prefab housing, prefab home, UK, passivhaus, passive house

Straw bale construction is both sustainable and remarkably energy efficient, and its organic nature can create some incredibly beautiful homes. But this building technique is not for everyone, nor every climate, and using straw bales in construction requires an almost artisan-like craftsmanship. A prefab company in the UK called ModCell, has taken an innovative approach that merges straw bale construction with prefabricated panels, with an end result that is highly attractive, energy-efficient and very sustainable. If prefab is your thing, ModCell is definitely a company you’ll want to look into.

ModCell, Balehouse, strawbale, straw bale, straw bale construction, prefab, prefab friday, prefab housing, prefab home, UK, passivhaus, passive house

ModCell’s prefabrication process differs significantly from most prefab builders because they use straw bale in their panels. Straw bale homes are not incredibly popular yet, despite their incredible insulation and sustainable properties. ModCell prefabricates its panels and wall systems in a factory utilizing PEFC timbers (a global organization to promote sustainable forestry management) and then fills them with locally-sourced straw or hemp. These panels are air-tight, mold resistant, and result in practically no waste during prefabrication. Extra wood scraps are burned in the factory’s biomass boiler, extra straw or hemp goes to farms to be used as bedding, and any leftover metal scraps are recycled.

The exterior of the panels is covered in lime rendering, a stucco-like material that allows the building to breathe. ModCell’s super tight construction meets PassivHaus standards, and in some climates may not require any heating at all. The company already has a number of projects completed, including an EcoDepot, architectural studios, a farm building and the BaleHaus shown here, which is a demonstration project on the University of Bath campus. Also in the works are multi-family housing and neighborhood development projects.

+ ModCell

Via The Alternative Consumer

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  1. Modular_Thailand September 7, 2010 at 12:45 am

    What beautiful it is! I think, it look like regular houses both inside and outside. Home developer done very great job.

    This Straw bale homes could customize to small commercial solution such as Coffee’ shop, convenience shop, etc.

    – Lifesbox modular Thailand.

  2. manny March 8, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Great article…great photos
    I believe a house constructed from straw bales and powered by alternative energy from solar panels is both an environmentally friendly and economically sound alternative to a more orthodox building

  3. tcfsc January 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Hi Bridgette

    I would have contacted you directly about this but couldn’t find your details, hence commenting on the article. Thank you for offering me the opportunity to elaborate further.

    Independent research shows that FSC is the only certification system that specifies objective and verifiable minimum requirements for forest management and closely monitors if these have been achieved.

    FSC is also the only system in which economic, environmental and social interests have their own formal place in the organisation and which has public summaries of its certification reports.

    The transparency and consistency of the FSC system means that it is widely considered to be the ‘gold standard’ of forest certification.

    For more information on the comparison of forest certification schemes, and the differences between them, please see:

  4. Bridgette Meinhold January 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

    tcfsc, I have corrected the article to show that PEFC is in fact not UK’s version of the FSC. But please, can you enlighten us on the difference? They seem to have similar goals at least?

  5. Shropshire Architect January 12, 2010 at 11:34 am

    A nice well executed house.

  6. tcfsc January 11, 2010 at 4:36 am

    PEFC is not the UK’s version of FSC. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) operate a global forest and chain of custody certification programme, the only forest certification scheme endorsed by WWF, the Woodland Trust and Greenpeace. FSC certified forests are managed with respect for the environment, wildlife and the people who live and work in them, for more information please see or

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