I met Bob Theis last Autumn at the International Straw Bale Conference in Colorado during a lecture he presented on designing small spaces. Mr. Theis is an architect and has an extensive background working with natural materials, including straw bale construction. He’s also worked alongside Christopher Alexander, author of the revolutionary book A Pattern Language.
I recently stumbled upon this interview (click on picture below) with Mr. Theis on The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann and thought we’d share it here with you. Mr. Theis speaks to the appeal of natural building from an esthetic perspective; he touches upon the “delight” engendered by building with natural materials and the challenges and opportunities for integrating natural building into one’s life; and he unpacks the shift toward the professional occupations and the associated decline in dignity that once came with working with one’s hands.
His final remarks speak to the large number of people that feel trapped in their lives, not necessarily having the resources to buy the 10 acres of land they desire to build a fully functional, off-grid lifestyle. Mr. Theis suggests that people look to the enormous, and growing, stock of homes built mid-century that are past their “economic lifetime” in towns and cities already well established. He goes so far as stating, “someplace out in the country doesn’t need your attention nearly as much as some ruined piece of property in town somewhere.” In some cases this may be true but I’d argue that there are plenty of “ruined” pieces of property outside of towns and cities that do need people and these, too, are great opportunities for those wishing to improve the landscape. That aside, it’s a fine interview and we hope you enjoy it.
Since we first posted this article, the Permaculture Podcast has released Part ll of this interview, which delves more into specific practices, techniques and what is at the cutting edge of natural building right now. A really great listen for an overview of different materials, and why you might choose one technique over another. Bob Theis give some really compelling reasons as to why straw bale should be on the top of your list of consideration (and we agree!).