Readers’ Choice First Place: Straw Bale Sanctuary
The entry in the 2017 Fine Homebuilding HOUSES Awards that earned the most votes.
Designer: Tate Locke
Builder: Cristee-Meade Building Company
Motivated by “Not So Big” design theories, this home was actually designed for a different lot. Fortunately, when the original lot became unavailable the layout also worked well for this lot, and allowed for a longer driveway that gives guests a view of three sides of the home. Though the house was originally planned as two stories, due to the slab-on-grade construction required for this lot, a walkout basement was added. Elevated by the design change, the top level’s vast, open views extend all the way to the snow-capped mountains near Telluride and western Colorado’s magnificent Grand Mesa. The main level hovers among the native treetops while the custom studio-space basement sits at the forest floor. Working with straw bale is not for the faint of heart. Incorporating it seamlessly with the rest of the unique design elements was challenging, but the result was a tight house with good energy efficiency through the use of the naturally insulated thick walls finished with American Clay plaster. The homeowner, who is also the designer/builder, opted for the unique design of the home to showcase skills honed through many years of custom carpentry. Locally sourced products such as logs from Gunnison National Forest and willow from Grand Mesa were used in the construction.