After 6 weeks of living in Hale County, Rural Studio 5th-years have chosen teams! Reggie’s Home team consists of four students eager to study passive design strategies and the possible use of unconventional building materials.
Favorite Hair Product: Raw Sugar the Moisture Smoothie
Favorite Off-Site Activity: going to Lions Club Skatepark
Favorite Hair Product: Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk
Favorite Off-Site Activity: Learning how to cook
When talking to Reggie about his hopes and dreams of his future home he only had three requests: A roof, a bathroom, and an area where he could spend time outside. Reggie is not interested in having a home with air conditioning which will allow the team to focus on passive design strategies. After talking to Reggie the next question for the team was where to begin. Since Reggie is interested in reusing materials from his old family home, the team decided to start by going to the storage barns owned by the Studio in Newbern and quantifying what material were left over that could also be used.
Once that was done it was demo time! From now until the foreseeable future the team will finish demolishing Reggie’s old family home. This will allow the team to not only learn more about the site, but also form a connection with Reggie since he will be on site helping the team.
That’s all we have for now! In the meantime we’ll be trucking away with our site snakes!
With his extensive background in construction and carpentry, Jake LaBarre has been teaching students how buildings come together and how to detail them since 2011, even acting as 3rd-Year Visiting Assistant Professor at Rural Studio for a year. Jake lives in Seattle, teaching a design-build studio at the University of Washington, and he currently works at Building Work.
The Detailing and Construction workshop, taught by Jake
LaBarre, taught students how to begin detailing buildings. The intent of the
workshop was for students to gain a better understanding of constructability
through the examination of the order of operations in detailing. In order to
achieve this, the workshop examined past Rural Studio projects to learn why and
how they were detailed. In order for students to even think about creating
their own details, they first needed to understand how other buildings were
detailed and why those decisions were made.
This workshop acted as a complement and follow-up to the
earlier Contemporary Structures, by Emily McGlohn. Firstly, it provided a
better working understanding on typical components used in building assemblies.
More importantly, Jake stressed the importance of not relying only on flat
two-dimensional drawings of wall sections using three-dimensional drawings but
to use three-dimensional drawings as well. This became clear to students when
they constructed drawings of axons for the same buildings they had previously
drawn sections for in the Contemporary Structures workshop. Students realized
just how much information was not included when just shown in section. By
drawing out how materials come together, the kinds of fasteners that were used,
and the three-dimensional thicknesses added another layer of information about
how the buildings were constructed.
Students gained the confidence to know where to start detailing. It became clear that before beginning any project that they should first do thorough precedent research. With so many details out there—even just in the catalog of Rural Studio projects where previous students spent a great deal of time figuring out the detailing—so there is no need to start from scratch.
On Saturday, September 21st, we celebrated the beautiful work of our 5th-year students, Ayomi Akinlawon, Jed Grant, Madeline Gibbs, and Yikuan Peng, and our lovely neighbor Ann at the ribbon cutting ceremony of 20K Anna’s Home. Thank you to all of our supporters and community! Without your support, none of this work would be possible!
20K Ann’s Home has a research and design focus of “aging-in-place.” The team took on the challenge of designing a home for the entire life of its occupant, not simply accepting the narrow understanding of “aging-in-place” that considers life following retirement. This meant providing spaces that are flexible and remain suitable as a family expands and contracts during different phases of life.
In addition to providing a living room that can easily transition into a third bedroom if required (when those teenagers need their own space or the favorite niece comes to stay), the design creates a strong connection between the interior and the porch with double doors. Not only does this approach create accessibility for someone in a walker, wheelchair, or even a hospital bed, it also provides space for families to gather and support one another. The house also prepares for this life cycle with details that are both durable and affordable to maintain.
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.
Each September, 5th-year and master’s students participate in roughly four weeks of workshops led by consultants with expertise in subjects like landscape, sketching, structural engineering, building codes & ordnances, geotechnical and environmental engineering, as well as artists and graphic designers. This process is directed toward students gaining familiarity with the year’s projects, with consultants exploring important questions related to their field. Students also divide into charette teams to share the newly acquired knowledge amongst each other and thereby get to know one another better. The workshop process culminates with students choosing the project and designing the team they will be working both on and with for the rest of their time in the program.
How do you begin when you have no idea where to start? You just do. For the next few weeks, 5th-year and master’s students will document each workshop. At the completion of the workshops, the students will create a book of their experiences and lessons learned. The Graphics and Documentation workshop, with RS alumnus, Danny Wicke, and architectural photographer, Tom Harris, differs from any other because these lessons inform how the students work over the entirety of their book-making process. It sets the stage for how the next seven workshops will go as they create a framework for the entire process. Over the course of three days, Danny and Tom taught them about documentation, communication, presentation, and relation(ships). The students began the process of creating a book and working as a team.
The goals of the workshop were to emphasize the importance of documentation, discuss strategies for documenting work successfully, develop a structure to document upcoming workshops, produce a book that documents the workshop series, and build upon previous versions of the book.
Creating a book is more than generating words on a page. A good book tells a story. This workshop provided the basic framework of storytelling and how crafting a narrative with mindful design and documentation can make or break a book’s success. Book design and documentation act in unison, representing the narrative in a captivating way. When deciding how to design and layout a book, many decisions will overlap, making it crucial to have a general direction and overview of the book’s content from beginning to end. Some more technical design considerations include setting a baseline or regular grid layout, typography and font hierarchy, page margins, column count, paper medium, furniture, gutter space, book cover, and size.
Documentation should be mindful and not an afterthought to fill pages. The objective is to go beyond “just capturing” a moment by introducing an artistic voice that is represented through multiple mediums. Successful documentation is interactive and should captivate the audience. This workshop stressed the importance of elevating mediums (i.e. photography, montages, graphics, drawings, etc.) to intrigues the reader and further convey the story instead of acting to fill dead space. It is important to have a regimented game plan to record moments before they happen. This can be through the lens of a skilled photographer who is always considering light, angles, and exposure, or it is direction given to all team members to snap an individual moment that can later be used for a montage.
As the first workshop, the goal is to communicate direction prior to successive workshops in order to fully capture their significance and maintain cohesion between text and imagery.