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2018 MCHAP

Straw Bale Rural House

Juan M Casillas

Acatitian, Valle de Bravo Mexico

October 2017


Juan Manuel Casillas Pintor


Mario Hernandez Soto (Master Builder)


Alejandro Marcushamer


Juan M Casillas Pintor


The house is a small straw bale house (120sq mtr.) equipped with a compost toilet / shower module in the area. The objectives are to provide a economic, durable, efficient and beautiful space to live in the forest. The design considers bioclimatic principles of natural ventilation, lighting, and thermal mass to provide natural insulation. It has a rain water harvesting system with 2 water tank of 30,000 litres capacity. Energy efficiency is achieved with solar collectors for heating the water and PV panels to provide electric energy. The house has a worm compost system and a bio digestor to manage the waste water and use it for irrigation. The basic building materials are very low embodied energy, like stone, wood, earth, straw bales, lime, sand and a low percentage of cement.


The house and the dry composting toilet / shower module are located within a permaculture project in Acatitlan, Valle de Bravo. The proposal is looking forward to develop in the community of Acatitlán a more efficient building method to create a successive network that tells the story of the regeneration of the site over time, amplifying rhythms, dynamics and healthy relationships that occur in nature and people that are living in the community. The place is a forest in the outside of the town, the site project is permaculture design that looks forward to be a model of sustainability and the tools for self sufficient resources like water, food and energy.


The client of the project is using this house as the first settlement in the land. In order to develop all the permaculture project form within the site. The construction of this house was developed by local labour and materials, an educational process was triggered by the making of the straw bale walls because the community participated in a collaborative building process. This experience has allowed architecture to be a change tool for regenerative impacts on the community.

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