Straw Bale Tipi Village

Debbie, a reader of ours, has entered the Aviva Community Fund challenge with a great idea of creating a Straw Bale Tipi Village. In order for this project to win the challenge, it needs to receive the most votes. Below is a description of the project as well as a link for you to vote for it.

Challenging Youth at Risk into building a Straw Bale Tipi village as an alternative education learning model.  The necessities of math, science, learning architectural design, basic engineering, importance of blueprint reading and drafting, construction safety skills would be learned by the Youth at Risk who participate in this building project. Other possible jobs skills learned on the job and possible accreditation through the participation of this project would include WHIMS, First Aid, CPR, and other.

The ideal outcome expected to be achieved from the Straw Bale Tipi village is multiplied by ten. Throughout the building of this project, traditional life skills, work ethics, importance of social inclusion, positive interpersonal communication skills and cooperative team building are learned by the Youth at Risk groups as they work alongside their working facilitators and mentors. Recognition of their own achievements in combination of the outcome of the building structure and its possibilities may lead towards the development of a grassroots vision.

Not only would this be an alternative education learning project for Youth at Risk, it would increase Green Energy awareness, use of local Natural Resource and creating viable and possible Aboriginal Eco-tourism opportunities as well as a create permanent structure for future Youth at Risk workshops.

The Straw Bale tipi village may serve as a cultural identity landmark for First Nations; encourage multicultural relationships and understanding should Aboriginal eco-tourism increase.

To vote for this project, please click here.

19 Responses to Straw Bale Tipi Village

  1. kent ferguson Thu, October 4, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I am quite drawn to this idea and concept. I think I may be able to help with location and/or land and/or students. At the least I hope to be sent more info.

  2. FG Kohler Thu, October 4, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Sad. The idea of teaching youth design and construction sounds fine, but the drawing and actual proposal is depressing. The main features are 2 TVs and an empty refrigerator… oh grand.

    You talk about learning design and show none.

  3. Andrew Morrison Thu, October 4, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    Great Kent! Your site would be amazing for something like this, or at least your part of the world would if you are thinking about another location nearby. Hope you are well. Did you end up going to Brazil by the way?

  4. Andrew Morrison Thu, October 4, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    I had a similar reaction to the TVs too. Keep in mind that this is just an initial proposal. Debbie, the woman whose idea this is, has emailed me in the past with more design related questions about how to create the tipis. She is not a designer so it’s best to look beyond the initial drawing and visualize the potential of the project.

  5. Susan Fegan Thu, October 4, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    The idea is lovely, but I am having trouble visualizing how this particular type of structure – a tipi – would work with straw bales. I would need more information on that before I could vote for it. I also think that the social goals of the project have nothing to do with the physical shape of the buildings, and could also be achieved if the young people built a village of straw bale cottages.

  6. Rick Cahill Thu, October 4, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    I find the dual staircase design proposal to be unorthodox and wasteful as the space lost could be used for other things that may be needed, like perhaps a bathroom, or a kitchen or asomething else.Further what are you using for the framework of the tipi in the first place? A straw bale might be considered but the weight of the straw and the ensuing weight of the finishing materials would preclude rather substantial structures

  7. Jon Thu, October 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    The over all idea is great Saving/rising the kids takes a village but as far as deigning, it seem to me building rectangles (maybe a curved wall now and then) would be more practical in our society Even throw in a second story
    first step,make a few with a galvanized steel roof (like a horse arena/carport)I have a pix of one in CA Also it gives a place to store straw Traditional roof designs can then be done on a few Solar ize for a Dept of Energy grant
    So here are some questions How many? Sleeping quarters? Central kitchen? Community hall? Where is it?

    Maybe you could make part of the project a workshop (Hint hint)

  8. Jon Thu, October 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Additional info

    PS I thought of this concept years ago as a senior citizen project like the lady/nurse? in Canada did

  9. Andrew Morrison Thu, October 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Hi Susan. I think the tipi design will be difficult as well. It will require a lot of support for the bales. I think you may have the right direction by suggesting a simple cottage design. The learning will definitely be there and the shape will actually be easier to teach on for the instructors. A complex project like a tipi may be the wrong way to start for kids just learning the basics.

  10. Andrew Morrison Thu, October 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Agreed Rick. Again, I think this is a concept or an idea and I hope that Debbie takes the feedback showing up here into consideration moving forward.

  11. Andrew Morrison Thu, October 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Similar point as those made in the comments below (they all came in about the same time funnily enough). I hope that Debbie (the woman who is hoping to do this project) is listening. I trust she is.


  12. Alberto Amaya Ibañez Thu, October 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I am a graduated form Universidad colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca in my country, Colombia.I would ask you if you are interested about give a preesentation of this interesting subject and kind of buildin for my Alma mater .
    They prepare every year an academic fair in wich there are always very innovative people that give us their knowledge about Building subjects.I asked the directives in order to invite you for the next month of abril, only if you want to talk to the studens Here.
    We will really glad if you want to.
    Expecting for your answer,
    Alberto Amaya Ibañez.
    thank you.

  13. Debbie, straw bale tipi design Thu, October 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Tipi structured straw bale design as you say might be difficult. my alternate idea is to create a round bale structure. As for the drafting of the tipi, I was discussing the potential of teaching kids how to build at an early age. The boys drew it up while we were discussing how learning on the job actually promotes learning. its a known statistics most of the youth are working on construction trades as they move out into the urban areas yet they are not being taught what the potential of learning green energy projects may bring. The potential of building a straw bale building to promote aboriginal ecotourism projects in the area, Chitek Lake, Saskatchewan with all the lakes, trees, are high. I believe ideas need to jump out at people and see whether the possibilities of such a project in using straw bales for building structures such as a tipi offers such learning potentials- in using straw bale housing allows for green energy, use of local resources when the area is surrounded by farmers with no real use for straw bales. It offers character in building structures…lots of potential once one is completed. the location would nearby a lake, between a well known tourist area, if you google chitek lake, saskatchewan

  14. Peter Watson Fri, October 5, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    Hey guys, I’m all for that – if my skills can in any way contribute to the task, let it be; I’m available.

    Peter Watson | BSc Architectural Technology (CIAT Accredited)
    Atlas and Partners – Architectural Services

    “We guarantee competitive prices for planning, design and architectural services” T: 01834 831 855; M: 07810 891 375; E:

    Red Gables, Trelessy Rd., Llanteg, Pembrokeshire SA67 8PU,

  15. Andrew Morrison Fri, October 5, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    I hear you Debbie. You are clearly passionate about this idea and I get that you want it to stand out and be a solid example of hands-on learning. That’s great. As I mentioned in a previous comment in response to a reader here, my biggest concern would be teaching kids to build, who have never built before, on a structure that is difficult even for a seasoned builder. A tipi would certainly fall into that category and a round structure is also difficult (less so than a tipi though). Potentially starting with a simple design with some cool elements to it might be better so that the kids can actually achieve success within the project. There is nothing more satisfying than finishing your first construction project with success and nothing more upsetting than failing at that same attempt. To really inspire the kids, they must find success in their efforts. You could incorporate some cool design details: a curved wall, a winding landscape wall, or some other element that touches on the organic nature of the construction while at the same time giving the students a simple structure that has a high potential for successful completion. My two cents….expanded. 🙂

  16. Andrew Morrison Fri, October 5, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Hola Alberto. Gracias por la invitación. Me interesa y le gustaría aprender más sobre él. Mi horario es muy concurrido, así que el tiempo es importante.

    Por cierto … me engañó y utilizó Google traducir. Mi español no es muy bueno … yo sólo soy un principiante. 🙂

  17. Donald Costello Sat, October 6, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Somehow (I’m not an engineer or architect) I cannot see how a straw bale house can be tapered as a tepee is however think that the idea(s) of teaching young students to incorporate “straw baling” into their building concepts, and perhaps actually constructing a “village”, is a great and worthwhile exercise.

  18. Greg Miller Tue, October 9, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    I’ve been following straw bale building for almost 15 years. Andrew has contributed more to my understanding of the subject than all of my other sources combined. The tipi design troubled me at first glance; as there is no feasible way to protect the bales from water collection. Exterior sealing would only trap water within. A bad idea for bale construction. I understand the importance of traditional tipi forms as a cultural statement, but bales would be a difficult material in that form. Culturally, a round-house would be the next best thing as, “the circle” has significance to American Indian culture as well. Circular walls are also more problematic than straight walls in bale construction; though I have seen it done. The goals of the project are laudable, but you can add my name to the
    list of potential voters who see the need for a simpler, and more bale-friendly structure.

  19. Jon Thu, October 11, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Here is an in depth way to build a dome depending on your building code The engineering method is about 15 min in

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