Pendleton Straw Bale

The Miller-Parker residence is an infill project in a neighborhood of older homes in Pendleton, Oregon. The site slopes up from the street, and previously held a home which was lost in a fire. A concrete one-car garage at the front of the lot was retained, along with an existing shed. These two structures, plus best access to southern exposure, dictated the new building placement.

A simple Tuscan Farmhouse shape was chosen to blend with the neighborhood and keep costs within reach. The home is 3 stories, the lowest mostly below grade yet with an outdoor entry and ample daylight. The lower walls are Faswall insulating concrete blocks, and the upper two level walls are Straw Bales. An exposed post and beam structure supports the floors and roof.

The lower level is an open space with a bath and hobby kitchen which will be easily converted to a future ADU. A well defined shoe-off entry opens to the daytime living areas on the main level, and three bedrooms and a bath share the upper level. There is a total of 2375 square feet, distributed equally between the levels.

The home was designed for passive heating and cooling in a climate that reaches extremes of winter and summer weather. Supplemental heating is provided by a hot water loop in the floor at the perimeter, and an attic night-flush fan helps cool the inside in the summer.

Outdoor living spaces are integrated with the design. Arbors frame a patio off the living and dining areas on the south side of the main level. A shaded courtyard located between the home and existing retaining wall to the north offers a summer retreat, and a comfortable front porch invites conversation with neighbors, topped by a covered balcony off the master bedroom.

This home has been built with extensive labor by the homeowners. Straw bale walls were stacked and detailed for plaster with the help of friends and a traveling bale master. Lime plaster on the outside and clay plaster on the inside were applied by them and inlayed with small stones, crystals, and shells. Local artists have carved the exposed framing members and cast detailed sills and ledges.