rs5thyears

Ready to Transform

From costume contests to coding classes, the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project takes on a new form everyday.

In the past weeks, the team has been designing a Pod which is a small dwelling or dorm that 3rd-years use for sleep and storage. The Pod will be used to test the Optimal Tuning Theory. The team presented the Optimal Tuning Theory and their current pod design at the annual Rural Studio Halloween Review. Unfortunately, all of you lovely readers were not able to make the review, so this post will be dedicated to explaining the Optimal Tuning Theory and showing off the teams Halloween Review Costumes.

What is the Optimal Tuning Theory?

First, let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way, what are Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation? Thermal Mass is a property of the mass of a building which enables it to store and release heat. A typical example would be an adobe home or pueblo where the thick, earthen walls absorb the hot, desert sun during the day keeping the interior space cool. Later during the cold, desert night the thick, earthen walls release that heat into the interior thus warming the space. Buoyancy Ventilation, often refereed to as the “stack” or “chimney” effect, utilizes the natural ventilation cycle of hot air rising and cool air falling to supply air to a space without mechanical systems.

The Optimal Tuning Theory theorizes that a space can be comfortably and passively ventilated, heated, and cooled by coupling an internal Thermal Mass with Buoyancy Ventilation. If these systems are synchronized or “optimally tuned” it would allow architects and builders to use the ancient practice of Thermal Mass building in a more predictive manner. The typical issue with Thermal Mass buildings is that the Thermal Mass is never able to release all the heat it absorbed in the day, therefore the cycle does not start over the next day and the passive system does not work efficiently. By keeping the Thermal Mass on the interior, shaded from the sun and insulated, and using Buoyancy Ventilation to draw out access heat or supply heat from the air, the system is able to reset for the next day. The Optimal Tuning Theory is the crux of the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project.

The Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project Team will build a Pod as a scientific instrument to test the Optimal Tuning Theory. A Pod is an appropriate, human scale that they can test the temperature and air flows of easily and can be inhabited by 3rd-years later on.

Now for the real magic, Rural Studio’s own Transformers! Each TMBVRP team member transformed into a classic Rural Studio vehicle. From left to right starred: Livia Barrett as Andrew Freear’s Honda Fit including his front license plate that reads “British Nut;” Rowe Price as the crisp, new Student Truck; Cory Subasic as Hale County Classic Tractor fit with hand wheels; and Jeff Jeong as our beloved Johnny Parker’s beloved BobCat. The team came second in the local costume contest, but Jeff won Best Pumpkin! Thanks for TUNING in, we hope to see you at Soup Roast!

Time to Reggie-fy

Hello from Reggie’s Home team! After demoing the existing structure on our site, the past two weeks we have been sorting the wood from the rest of the construction materials. We have only put the construction materials in the dumpster in order to maximize the used space and have taken the wood off site.

Aerial view of site after demolition

Along with finishing clearing off our site, we have been busy with reviews every Friday. On October 25th we had a review with Ada and Giuseppe from Lot-ek in New York City. Through this presentation our team was given advice on how to present our research and case studies to the scale of our project. They also helped us realized that we needed to start thinking about what Reggie envisions and approach our design in an unconventional way.

Presenting to Lot-ek

For our BIG HALLOWEEN REVIEW we had Marlon Blackwell, Katrina Van Valkenburgh, and Mike Newman come to Newbern. After taking them on a journey from space to Reggie’s property we got a lot of insight on how to begin our design. One of the key factors was to take the concepts of our case studies and apply them to fit Reggie’s needs (Reggie-fy them).

We also had our annual pumpkin carve!
Building our costumes
Presenting for Halloween Reviews

We plan to start our design by looking at Reggie’s desire to live outside and starting our narrative from there.

This week we will get our dumpster off site and finally begin our site survey!! When not on site we will continue to Reggie-fy our case studies and get our design juices flowing.

Reggie-fying our case studies

That’s all we have for now! See you next week!

Reggie’s Home Team

Horseshoe Homes Celebration November 09, 2019!

Almost time for a BIG celebration!!! The Horseshoe Homes project team has been busy wrapping up the finishing touches for the special day…only 11 days to go!

Join Project Horseshoe Farm and Auburn University Rural Studio for the ribbon cutting on Saturday, November 9th! Meet us at the PHF Headquarters at 1202 Main Street in downtown Greensboro at 11:30 a.m. to walk over to the site.

Thank you to everyone who has made this project possible! War Eagle!!!

2,200 Holes and Counting…

Over the last couple of weeks, the Horseshoe Hub Courtyard team has continued to fabricate the screens in the shop, and are nearly done! After working on the shorter eight-foot screens, the team moved on to working on the nine-foot screens that are above the stage and near the main entrance, as well as 18-foot screens and corners. Thanks to the jigs that were fabricated, a small assembly line was created to facilitate making the screens as equally as possible. 

This past week the team finished cutting and perforating all the steel tubes for the footings, walkway strut, and wall plates and started welding the tabs to the wall plates. Also, a huge shoutout to Zane and Cassandra from Blackshop Birmingham for donating the laser-cut plates that make-up most of the walkway, they saved the team weeks worth of work!  

In other exciting news, the team took a trip this past Monday to Hunter Trees LLC and tagged the trees for the courtyard! Thirteen beautiful single trunk, Natchez Crepe Myrtles, which will be planted on site shortly after the screens are up.

Of Local Interest

Howdy from the new center for Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research in Newbern, Alabama!

The team is fresh off their first presentation with reviewers Kim Clements and Joe Schneider. Kim and Joe are the founders of J.A.S. Design Build in Seattle, Washington. They helped the team develop a clearer way to explain the thermal mass and buoyancy ventilation theory.

The team reviewing the review on Monday morning.

Eventually, the team will be publishing a paper, with their partners at McGill University. The paper will aim to speak to architects and builders who could implement the thermal mass and buoyancy ventilation system in their buildings. Reviews with folks like Kim and Joe will help the team learn how to communicate best with the design and construction world.

The chosen materials, their components, and their processing

Besides preparing for their first presentation, the team has been working on material research. A crucial part of the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project is understanding the embodied energy of their construction materials. The team will study exactly what goes into the making of the materials from harvesting natural resources to transporting the finish material to the construction site. Timber, brick, rammed earth, and concrete are the materials the team are considering for the thermal masses. To limit energy lost to transportation and as an investment in Alabama, the team is investigating local material manufacturers within the state.

Speaking of local, here in Newbern, the Hurricane Lilies are still in bloom, Rural Studio students are stealing all the sunshine, and a shark must have been spotted downtown. From the T.M.B.V. Research Project Team to you, keep it real and real local!