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Joe Trumpey & Students Build Straw Bale House

July 17, 2017

A new article details how 22 undergraduates, led by Stamps Associate Professor Joe Trumpey, constructed a new off-the-grid, straw bale structure at the U-M Biostation.

“I’ve been wanting to teach a Green Building class for a long time,” said Joe Trumpey, an associate professor in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and the Program in the Environment, who is leading the class. Trumpey designed and built his own home, a 2,200-square-foot straw bale structure in Grass Lake. He and his family live entirely off the grid, heating their home with wood, drawing their power from solar panels, and gardening and raising animals for food.

“My home and my farm are the cornerstone of my creative practice,” Trumpey said. “What I advocate for is regional thought about local architecture, using local materials, and being able to use natural building to adapt to the local climate.”


The Green Building class is offered through the program, and the class is composed of Program in the Environment students, Stamps students and students from the the Ford School of Public Policy and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Trumpey and the students started with a weekly three-hour practicum that met throughout the winter semester. During the first part of the semester, the students learned the history and context of green building, as well as different types of natural building. But they quickly got down to the nitty-gritty of their own building.

The Straw Bale House | Arts & Culture