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Joe Trumpey & Students Build Straw Bale House

Straw Bale Building107 1

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