Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

MODCELL: an innovative straw bale building system

At a glance

Funding body: DTi Technology Programme (2007-9)
Principal investigator: Pete Walker
Co-investigator: Andrew Heath
Researcher: Mike Lawrence
Industry partners: White Design Associates, Integral Structural Design, Lime Technology, Eurban, Agrifibre Technologies, CWCT
Dates: 2007-2009


The project is developing an innovative prefabricated building system using straw bales.

'Modcell' panels comprise a timber frame in-filled with straw bale insulation. The bales are compacted, reinforced and protected with either a render coat or timber fascia. Following initial prototype schemes the project will investigate and perfect the manufacturing process and develop robust design data.

The study will conduct:

  • laboratory based and numerical research investigations;
  • design studies; comparative life cycle assessment;
  • in-situ monitoring of prototype panels

and consider strategies for commercial development.

Though interest in straw bale construction has grown in recent years, it still remains largely the preserve of the self-build enthusiast. This project aims to bring the many advantages of straw bale into mainstream construction through an engineered high quality prefabricated modular building panel technology.