Straw belongs to the family of grasses. Grasses are plants, which typically have one seed leaf and continue to grow with narrow leaves from their base. The family includes “true grasses”, sedges and rushes. The Chair of Architecture and Construction at FCL is mostly interested in true grasses such as bamboo and cerials, since their characteristics show a high potential for taking tensile stress.

The Chair of Architecture and Construction at FCL Singapore started a research project together with the Bauhaus University in Weimar and the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development in Addis Ababa focusing on straw panel building technology. New settlements are emerging in developing territories almost every day, growing fast into urban conglomerates. One of the biggest problems in emerging cities is next to infrastructure measurements, available and affordable building materials and techniques for shelter production. The research project is focusing on the development of innovative and low-weight construction materials for emerging cities in developing territories, based on agricultural “waste” products like straw.

Straw panels and first ideas about load-bearing applications (Source: Prof. Dr. Dirk Donath)

The company STRAWTEC© in Berlin, Germany developed over the last years a production system for pressed straw panels. Through heat, the natural starch in the straw is activated and functions as natural glue without any other chemical additions. So far, the panels are only used as non-bearing structural elements. The project will investigate possibilities to develop the product and invent construction methods for load bearing applications. Presumed a positive research outcome, this innovative method could be applied in developing territories, which are economically agricultural based, including India, China and Indonesia.