Update: The Feuillette House has been purchased by the Centre National de la Construction Paille. They are still in need of support to complete their plans for creating a visitor center at the historic site.
While Nebraska makes the claim for the origins of bale construction, the French have an excellent example of historic straw bale construction in Montargis (see map for location). The Feuillette House is up for sale and the Centre National de la Construction Paille (CNPC, National Center for Straw Construction) is leading the effort, in partnership with the Centre Preservons Aujourd’hui L’avenir (Centre for Preserving the Future Today), to purchase and preserve the house, while also performing research that will help all of us understand the origins and background of this unique building.
What we have been able to determine, in addition to what is on the website shown below is that the house is built over a partial masonry basement. It appears to be a great old example of multiple floor and foundation configurations from the distant past.
Other notable components of the building include the plasters and framing system. Lime render was used on the exterior and gypsum on the interior. The frame is very similar to what you would see on many modern straw bale construction projects, using 2x material to create full-depth posts. This building is considered the oldest post-and-beam straw bale building in the world.
It also appears that infrared images have been taken of the house to show it’s thermal performance as shown in this document, which is partially translated to english.
At this point, according to Fabienne Pasquier, Communication Manager at CNCP – Feuillette, they have raised 65,164.8 € towards their 70,000 € donation target. This money will be part of the 270,000 € budget for purchase and research. They are very close to achieving their goals and could use help making it across the finish line. A direct link to make donations by credit card can be found here with the english translation here.
According to their website “The “maison Feuillette” was built in 1921 by Feuillette, an engineer who was looking for solutions to construction problems following the war. The house is at Montargis, 90kms from Paris. It has been for sale for one year.
On a plot of land 1500m2, the 2 storey house covers 80m2 and is aligned along the road. In the rear garden there is a shady terrace. Despite the ivy which completely covers the house, the render shows no sign of deterioration, proof of its durability. In the rear part of the land, there is a 100m2 shed built using the same method of composite light timber frame, but with no infill.