Thatched houses: living comfort, high level of thermal and acoustic insulation, high fire resistance and no concrete foundations to do. How not to build one and go and live there? Stefano Soldati's advice from the La Boa farm is to do it immediately, but following a course. And maybe pairing it with a food forest.
1) When was your permaculture center born and what is it about?
In 2003. After years of traveling around the world I decided to stop, I bought a piece of land with a ruin and I started the work. I made the first of thatched houses Italian, in which the bales were used to build the walls with raw earth plasters, dug from my soil, internally and slaked lime externally. To complete the thatched houses like this, then, elements such as phytodepuration, mushroom farm, synergistic and non-synergistic vegetable garden, food forest, breeding of animals in the wild and semi-wild, are expected solar and photovoltaic panels, thermal mass stoves, pyrolytic kitchen, clay oven, phytopotabilizer, compost toilet, solar dryer, chicken coop / greenhouse, oven for primitive terracotta and much more.
2) What activities do you carry out related to or in straw houses?
We take care of training by organizing courses, seminars and conferences on permaculture but also on thatched houses, passing from food forest to plasters and floors in raw earth and lime. We are four teachers, with external teachers we then do complementary courses such as "making cheese at home", "self-production of mushrooms", "making a pyrolytic stove / kitchen" and others functional to self-sufficiency.
3) What are the benefits of thatched houses?
The benefits for the environment are excellent: straw is the by-product of the cereal, no additional energy is required for its production, it also captures the carbon dioxide accumulated in the vegetative cycle. The thatched houses they have a very high living comfort with high healthiness of the environments and, in addition to a high level of thermal and acoustic insulation, if plastered, they have a high resistance to fire. Furthermore, they do not require reinforced concrete foundations, not even in seismic areas, so it can be said that the thatched houses offer a remarkable savings both for the environment and for the wallet.
4) How widespread are straw houses in Italy?
I estimate there are around 150-200 thatched houses scattered throughout Italy. It is difficult to give a precise number. We started a long time ago to take a census, but we haven't had much response. At every course or seminar there is always someone who mentions an unknown friend who has built himself thatched houses, from the beginning of 2013 to today we have held courses and conferences to over 800 people, of which at least sixty are already involved in the design of their thatched houses which will become workable in 2014/2015.
5) What horizons are there for thatched houses?
More and more professionals are approaching this fascinating and efficient construction technique. It is undoubtedly a rapidly expanding field with great potential. As often happens in similar situations, even for thatched houses there are many incompetent and / or improvised people who have 'infiltrated' trying to ride the wave and make a profit, cleverly duping unknown clients who will pay for their mistakes.
6) What does self-construction mean?
The thatched houses they are particularly suitable forself-construction, we started two and a half million years ago when we came out of the caves. Two children in a wood as a first game will start building a hut with dry branches and leaves. We all have the self-builder gene within us, it is only dormant and we must awaken it. Even in Italy, albeit a bit slowly, we are returning to self-construction. However, I always recommend everyone to attend courses for thatched houses before embarking on this adventure: it will save a lot of energy, time, materials and money!
7) What is a food forest?
It has nothing to do with the thatched houses, it's a "Food forest" or an artificial system where the principles by which the spontaneous forest maintains itself are emulated, consisting of plants that have a usefulness for the human being without neglecting all the other living beings necessary for maintaining the natural balance. Ancient fruits, forgotten fruits, aromatic and medicinal essences, dyeing plants, wood and wood trees, fiber plants, honey plants, etc. With the charm of the forest we tend to produce our food towards afood and energy self-sufficiency.