The Halloween Reviews week is here! This week for the big review, the 3rd-years presented their 20K design and research for 20K Ophelia’s Home. Much of the busy week was spent in preparation for the Thursday review and their group costume, the “Last Supper.”
The 3rd-years finished their final quilting blocks in the elective class just in time to be hung and presented alongside their initial renderings. Aaron Head (local artist) returned to lead a sticking workshop on Wednesday as the students begin the process of actually “quilting” the quilt top, batting, and bottom together. Those couple hours of stitching were so peaceful, a pleasant break from studio work.
As Halloween grew closer, the students rapidly worked to finalize plan details, construction documents, and presentation flow.
On that hallowed day, guest reviewers Marlon Blackwell, Mike Newman, and Katrina Van Valkenburgh, alongside Rural Studio faculty, probed the students about the decisions they made behind their work, gave insightful critiques, and encouraged the 3rd-years in their research to improve the design of 20K Ophelia’s Home. Overall the review was a success!
And the students did enjoy itself all the while! The reviews of the 5th-year and master’s students were extremely interesting and engaging (not typically a word used to describe review days) and it was great to see what the rest of Red Barn was up to. Tuesday was the annual community Pumpkin Carve with the Halloween celebrations and costume contest on Thursday. The disciples definitely enjoyed themselves.
Since it’s almost half way through the semester, its about time to meet this years fall semester 3rd-Year Studio! Instead of the usual Q&A post, the 3rd-years decided a quiz would be a more fitting way to get to know the crew. Take the quiz to find out which Rural Studio 3rd-year you are!
PS: Did you notice the Polaroids of the students? Taking Polaroid pictures of every studio is one of Rural Studio’s favorite traditions. Whenever a new group of students arrive, they are photographed, scanned in, and pinned up around Red Barn for everyone to see. Here’s a close up of the fall semester 3rd-years!
In order to start thinking about each of the product line homes on Ophelia’s site, the 3rd-year studio has done hundreds (!) of drawings. They started with a charrette exercise to quickly sketch their ideas on paper and compile an initial understanding of the 20K Project, constraints, and opportunities.
Then, they split up into teams of 4 or 5 and each team was assigned a different product line house. Their assignment was to test the houses’ compatibility with the site and the “fit and feel” of the interior relative to their clients needs.
The main challenge of this year’s house was figuring out how to accommodate a guest that might stay for an extended period. The group used many different types of drawings to help them better understand the opportunities for growth within the house, specifically different plans options of each house along with vignettes showing different ways the client might use the space if not for an extra bed. They also worked out how the foundation will be built and function in each product line home by using sectional drawings.
In addition to the more technical drawings, the 3rd-years also sketched diagrams and perspectives, crafted a site model with the three standard product line homes, and made porch detail models for their specific proposals.
They repeated this process of drawing and presenting until the Studio and instructors felt they could comfortably and unanimously eliminate one of the proposals from the running because it would not be right for their client.
Through this process, the 3rd-years have since eliminated one home and will continue to explore and develop their ideas for the other two product line homes and how they will best work for their project. Stay tuned to see what product line home this studio will build for Ophelia!
Oh yeah, and every Wednesday is “haiku Wednesday” …
These kids have been here for about month…and haven’t stopped sweating since. The 3rd-Year Studio is such a small, diverse group of students who work together in Red Barn and live together at the Morrisette campus. Throughout the semester, they create their own blended community — full of fresh baked pies and domino games — and work hard at becoming better architects while learning about the people and this place that’s their new, borrowed home.
Instead of the paper and pens of syllabus week, the 3rd-years had shovels, gloves, and paint brushes for what is called “neck-down” week. This first week, everybody participated in small jobs around our campus and became intimately familiar with existing Rural Studio projects.
And after neckdowns, the 3rd-years had their first assignment; the Sawhorse Race. The students split up into teams to design, build, and test a pair of sawhorses. They also measured their tool trailer in order to design an organized and efficient system for tool storage.
The students then participated in two lovely days of water coloring and charcoal sketching in the annual workshop taught by Frank Harmon and Dan Wheeler, learning to use drawing as a way of seeing.
This semester the 3rd-years are going to build a home for our neighbor Ophelia! What a privilege and honor! Ophelia currently lives in a site near two previous Rural Studio projects, and this past week the 3rd-years documented her current home and property extensively to try to understand the constraints and opportunities they may face during the project. The presentation team has interviewed Ophelia, getting to personally know the women that the students will design and build for.
The 3rd-years are also participating in Rural Studio’s first quilting elective! Local artist Aaron Head lead an indigo dyeing workshop using locally grown and found indigo, poke weed, and osage to hand dye natural fabric and wool… and themselves. They will use these materials throughout the semester to piece together a quilt that displays beautifully abstracted renderings of Ophelia’s current home.
Birmingham, AL native, Emily McGlohn, currently runs the 3rd-Year Studio in Newbern. She has quite a long history with Rural Studio participating as a student in both the 2nd-year and 5th-year studios, and after graduation spent three years as “Clerk of Works.” Before bringing her expertise on building performance and hands-on education back to Newbern, Emily spent several years working in Virginia and teaching at Mississippi State.
The Contemporary Enclosures workshop, taught by Rural Studio 3rd-Year professor Emily McGlohn, primarily focused on learning from past Rural Studio projects by studying them through wall sections. This allowed students to identify the reasons why Rural Studio has gone from the inventive use of simple materials in projects to using common commercial materials while building an understanding of performance, specifically through thermal-, air-, and moisture-barriers, as well as learning about detailed construction. By examining the progression of Rural Studio projects and comparing R-values, students saw the greater attention paid to building performance that has occurred over the years and the variety of building types that have been tested.
It’s important that students confidently design for our subtropical humid climate, to know things such as when to use a vapor barrier versus a vapor retarder. After having looked at so many Rural Studio projects at a surface-level, students had the opportunity to study them in-depth through drawings, archived documents, photos, and in person. The drawings that students produced ended up being more accurate and detailed than the construction documents. Through this process, students gained both a more intimate knowledge of how buildings come together piece by piece and a familiarity with a myriad of different construction types and building materials. It became clear to students that while earlier Studio projects may appear more creative and unique, more recent projects have the ability to be easily maintained by its owners and replicated outside of Rural Studio.
Students gained the tools to design for the mixed-humid climate that they live and work in, making these performance strategies a priority in their designs.