Speaker Name: Barbara Jones.
Talk Title: Straw Trek – The Next Generation.
Talk description: A journey through time and spaces
Barbara pioneered the idea and inspiration of strawbale natural building in the UK in 1994
and has led the growing movement to improve our built environment and speak out about
the problems and health risks of certain manufactured products and practices that are
widely used today. She is internationally recognised for her work in developing the design of
strawbale buildings using only natural materials, speaks at International conferences, and
has a wide network of colleagues and contacts within her field.
She designed and built the UK’s first Council houses out of straw, the first 2 storey loadbearing strawbale houses, the first terrace of strawbale houses and the first strawbale Hotel. She works closely with self-builders to design affordable homes and mentor them through the build process, and has been involved in over 500 builds. She has also designed several options for cement-free foundations, all of which are approved by UK Building regulations, and are increasingly being used by other architects and engineers. Currently she is designing pre-fabricated straw panel houses for housing developers.
Alongside her passion for building, Barbara is also internationally acclaimed for developing a
unique and empowering way of teaching practical skills on building sites. This method has
resulted in an unheard of number of women learning practical construction skills, proving it
is not the job that puts women off, but the way it’s taught and carried out (in construction
there are at present less than 1% women working ‘on the tools’, but in the School of Natural
Building there are over 60%).
All this has been achieved in novel ways through collaboration, skill sharing and community participation. Most recently she is part of the team that successfully secured the Asset Transfer of a Community College in Todmorden, that she will help to run as a Centre of Natural Building, agro-ecology, and community ventures.
She is the author of Building with Straw Bales, a manual for architects and self-builders, that has been continuously in print since 2002, last revised and updated in 2015.