Ken’s Straw Bail House, Torvizcon – Part 1

Ken has built an excellent straw bail house in the mountains around Torvizcon, Andalucia

I met Ken completely by chance while at the hotel in Torvizcon. I was making a fuss of a little dog and he told me she had no owner. We got to talking and he mentioned that he lived in a straw bail house about 4km from the town. I was naturally curious so we exchanged numbers and made arrangements to meet again.

I had never heard of straw bail houses until that moment so my mind naturally skipped through a thousand ideas of what one might look like. The truth is, I didn’t have a clue so when we (Calypso and I) did finally take the hike up the river bed as it rose through the mountains, I was pleasantly surprised by the humility of Ken’s fabulous abode.

A few of his friends were sitting at tables in the garden as we arrived and they greeted us in a most welcoming manner. Ken was busy working on a fuel cell design to reduce the diesel usage on his Toyota Hilux which I’ll probably cover in another post.

Ken's straw bail house from the outside.

Ken's straw bail house from the outside - an off-grid mecca.

Firstly, Ken’s house is in a stunning location which is sandwiched between views of Mulhacen’s peak and another very canine tooth-like mountain whose name escapes me. He and his friends have flattened the land into swails (tiers of flat land cut into the mountain for growing crops) and sat above those is the straw bail house.

The principle behind straw bail houses is that they can be made to any shape by cutting the bails as required then cementing (or whatever material the owner chooses) around them to give it strength.

Ken’s is of a single storie construct in a rectangular layout and boasts five rooms which include three bedrooms, a lounge and an excellent bathroom with a raised bath. The interior décor is something too; one diving wall containing bottles and a rear wall made from tyres which are cemented over.

There is a kitchen in a separate outhouse and washing facilities outside too.

The house is largely self-sustainable and Ken tries to live off-grid as much as possible. In part two I’ll shed some light on how he gets his water supply, electricity and gas, as well as some of his food.

Read more about off-grid living by clicking here.

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