Unseen unknown # 5

The Feuillette House

English veThe straw house built by the engineer Émile Feuillette in 1920 is the oldest known and existing straw insulated building in Europe. It is also probably the oldest building in the world built in wood frame with straw bale filling. 
An article published in 1921 in the magazine La Science et la Vie relates its construction, completed in the fall of 1920. At that time, Gustave Lamache began his text with a title that is still relevant today: "Warm in winter, cool in summer, straw houses are above all economical". 
The article is illustrated with photographs of the construction site and includes a photo of an industrial premises under construction. It states that other buildings of the same type exist at that time in France. The journalist from "la vie et la science" highlights the advantages of this new type of construction:

  • The use of abundant and inexpensive materials
  • Accessibility to the middle classes
  • The use of vegetable materials produced close to the place of construction which allows a great saving on the usual transport costs.
  • Simplicity, prefabrication and economy
  • A 40cm insulation very effective with the air mattress trapped in the straw strands.
  • The lightness of the construction which allows the possibility of dismantling and moving whole sections of walls.

At the same time, the very active Émile Feuillette filed a patent for building construction in the United States of America. There are some constructive details that cross-check and complement the information provided by the French monthly magazine as well as the observations that can be made in this house, which is still in excellent condition. Next to it, the shed built at the time with the same framing system has no filling. It is thus possible to see how the skeleton of these buildings is formed.
In 2013, the Maison Feuillette was purchased by the Réseau français de la construction paille (RFCP) to make it a resource centre on bio-sourced construction.

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