A Big Bale Straw Bale Hotel in Switzerland, the Maya Boutique Hotel.


Lisa and Louis took 250 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and locked it into the walls of their straw bale hotel straw bale hotel in the beautiful alpine valley of Val d'Herens in Switzerland. The hotel and home was designed by architect Werner Schmidt who builds many homes from big bales (miscanthus) 1.2 m (4ft) thick. Such big bales mean the house is extremely well insulated. Just the energy from people and cooking, some 60-80 Watts (200-270 BTU), plus the sunlight is enough cover around 80% of the need for hot sanitary water and heating throughout the year.


Here Werner talks about this way of super insulated natural building.

  Werner Schmidt Big Bale Building  

Werner Schmidt on big bales

When a new building is so sympathetic to the natural environment finding music for a time-lapse video isn't difficult... Erik Satie's Gymnopedies suits it well.

  Maya Guesthouse under construction  

Time-lapse of the hotel being built


Louis, Lisa, Laszlo, Luna-Maria





Lisa and Louis have worked hard to build a contemporary home and business that not only minimises the environmental impact in its construction but will also have little impact during its lifetime of potentially centuries. Above (centre) is the dinning room with sections of the walls displaying the big bale load bearing structure of the building. The chairs are made from salvaged wine barrels. Pictured right is a taste of the style of the building. It's a mixture of rustic timbers with high specification luxury demonstrating beautifully that there is no need to suppose a naturally built home is a step backwards in comfort. In fact it's quite the opposite.

Breakfast at Maya is served with homemade jams and compote. A traditional jam of the region is 'Compote de Rhubarbe Sauvage' [Wild Rhubarb Compote].

  Lisa and Louis talk about their big bale hotel  

Lisa and Louis talk about
their big bale hotel


Home made jams at Maya Boutique Hotel


Wild Rhubarb Compote

Soak 300g alpine dock stems in water for 10-20 minutes, drain and trim off any brown parts. Slice into 1cm lengths and, in a pan, add 150g sugar and stir. Add the zest and juice of a lemon and a cinnamon stick and stand overnight. By the next day the mix will be juicy. Bring to the boil, cover and cook gently for about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the jam in jars. Once opened keep in a refrigerator (or eat it fast).


Alpine Dock (Rumex alpinus) or Monk's Rhubarb