ruralstudio

"I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello"

The new group of 3rd-years have arrived and hit the ground running (with maybe a stumble or two) as they begin the process of taking over Ophelia’s Home project and start to get acclimated in their new spot for the semester. Before discussing the details of their project, the students took a tour of several past Rural Studio projects to familiarize themselves with the town and other 20K Homes around Newbern.  Once touring and neckdowns were completed, the initial goal for the newbies was to look through all the hard work last semester’s 3rd year group put in to creating the best version of Joanne’s home for Ophelia. One of the first steps was to understand the foundation and the reasoning behind some major decisions made in the design.

New kids on the block… Meet the 3rd-years!

Adam “Slow-Movin” Boutwell

From: Bay Minette, Alabama

Joke: Today my brother asked me, “Can I have a book mark?” We’ve been brothers for 21 years and he still does not know my name is Adam.

Hobby/Talent: Professional snapper

Yearbook Quote: “Mountains never meet, but people do.”

Alex “Old Soul” Harvill

From: Tampa, Florida

Joke: Some people think prison is one word… but to robbers it’s a sentence.

Hobby/Talent: Riff on the air guitar.

Yearbook Quote: “Surely you can’t be serious”

Daniel “Go-To Goatee” Burton:

From: Prattville, Alabama

Joke: My friend keeps saying, “Cheer up man, it could be worse, you could be stuck underground in a hole full of water.” I know he means well.

Hobby/Talent: Amateur chopstick craftsman

Yearbook Quote: “There’s a stack of freshly made waffles in the middle of the forest! Don’t you find that a wee bit suspicious?”

Elizabeth “Parking Services” Brandebourg

From: Auburn, Alabama

Joke: Two guys walk into a bar, but the third one ducks.

Hobby/Talent: Wildlife photography

Yearbook Quote: “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Elle “MNOP” Whitehurst

From: Peachtree City, Georgia

Joke: Ask for more info.

Hobby/Talent: Can talk with mouth closed

Yearbook Quote: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley”

Hannah “Trevor” Moates

From: Ozark, Alabama

Joke: Did you hear about the new corduroy pillow? They are making headlines everywhere!

Hobby/Talent: The Auburn Eventing Team

Yearbook Quote: “Better is the enemy of good.”

Jackie “The Marine” Rosborough

From: Deerfield, Illinois

Joke: I’m addicted to brake fluid, but I can stop whenever I want.

Hobby/Talent: Making coffee. Try a pourover from me to decide if it’s a hobby or a talent.

Yearbook Quote: “My vibe is like, hey you could probably pour soup in my lap and I’ll apologize to you.”

Jasvandhan “Jay” Coimbatore Upendranath

From: Coimbatore Tamil Nadu, India

Joke: ur mom

Hobby/Talent: Binge watching

Yearbook Quote: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.”

Jooyoung “Tree” Lim

From: South Korea

Joke: Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9.

Hobby/Talent: Soccer

Yearbook Quote: “Your secrets are safe with me… I wasn’t even listening”

Lauren “Patio” Deck

From: Aurora, Illinois

Joke: Your workout routine

Hobby/Talent: Black belt taekwondo

Quote: “No pain, no gain.”

Luke “Shamus” Killough

From: Huntsville, Alabama

Joke: I’m in architecture for the money.

Hobby/Talent: Can shred on a kazoo

Yearbook Quote: “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m doing it really, really well.”

Shijin “Surgeon” Ding

From: Qingdao, China

Joke: At Disney I heard a mother talking to her son say, “We’re in the happiest place on earth. Don’t let me slap you.”

Hobby/Talent: Photoshop, InDesign, CAD, Sketchup

Yearbook Quote: “Your hair is winter fire, January embers. My heart burns there too.”

For the first week of studio a good ‘ol fashioned pull-planning session was held to create a rough to-do list in order to get the project done in time for Pig Roast. The studio was split into four teams that consisted of framing, enclosures, MEP, and interiors. Although there’s a lot to be done for the semester, this framework will allow the project to be completed smoothly with a competent team of 3rd years (good luck finding one!).

(Kidding, they’ve got this.)

The first few days on site were spent digging drainage trenches and preparing for floor framing which will occur next week. The first steps to the floor framing was to place the girder in order to secure the joists. Gravel was poured into the trenches which will surround the drainage tile that is to be put in place.

Let's do some tests!

Hello from Reggie’s Home! In an effort to create a design that fully responds to the conditions of the site we decided to conduct some soil test to determine where the best places to grow Reggie’s desired fruits and vegetables would be. In order to conduct the test we divided our site into three parts: the front of the site, the part where the old family home stood, and the back of the site where Reggie has been cutting down privet. We collected soil from these areas and sent them to Auburn University’s soil testing laboratory to be tested. 

Box used to mail soil samples.

We have also been researching the plants Reggie wishes to grow to figure out what type of sun and soil they need, as well as what seasons the crops would be harvested. This research and the soil test results led us to determine the best place for Reggie to have a garden would be the north side of the site. With this information we were able to get a more accurate master plan of the site. 

Plant research.

In addition to researching plants available to grow on our site we also continued our research with Earth Tubes, a form of passive heating and cooling. Earth Tubes are essentially buried ventilation ducts that heat or cool the air moving through them because of the constant temperature of the soil. A big question that comes with Earth Tubes is whether or not it will work in our climate due to the humidity. Lucky for us, the Rural Studio Farm Storehouse uses earth tubes in an effort to keep produce at a constant temperature. We have been monitoring the temperature and humidity outside the storehouse and outtake of the Earth Tube to see how effective it is. After a month of recording temperature we discovered a change of temperature from 6-10 degrees. With this information we contacted Adam Pyrek, an Environmental Controls professor from the University of Texas at Austin, to consult whether Earth tubes would be feasible as part of our home design. He encouraged us to continue the research on the temperature and humidity of the storehouse and to keep in mind that Earth Tubes are ideal for keeping a small space at a constant temperature.

Diagram showing how the spaces would be divided using Earth Tubes.

With all this information we will be pushing the design of the home as well as the site as a whole forward!

Until next week,

Reggie’s Home

“I Say Goodbye, You Say Hello”

The end of the semester was a hustle and last hoorah for the fall semester 3rd-Year team. The students were sentimental (and maybe a little stressed) as they finished projects, and assignments and prepared to showcase their semester in one final review. And even though it felt like it was never going to happen, they got to start building a house!!

When it came time for the pour, excitement filled the air as the concrete truck back into Ophelia’s driveway. One full day of pushing and pulling and shoveling and smoothing with just about all the strength the students had to give. The 3rd-Years then drilled into the concrete footing to place and grout vertical rebar.

When the block layers came, everything went off without a hitch! The 3rd-Years got to watch the masters at work, and even help on occasion. Finally, the students then filled the allotted cells of the CMU wall with concrete and placed anchor bolts for next semester to bolt the sill on the foundation wall. And of course, cleaning up the site all along the way.

Oh, and the quilt, the magnificent quilt. The student’s final block iterations were sewn together, a quilt back was made with extra material from the naturally dyed fabric and a layer of cotton and polyester batting (yes kind of like insulation) was sandwiched between the sewn top and bottom. 

The students then basted the sandwich (quick, temporary seams) and made a PVC Pipe frame to hold all the layers together while each student intricately “quilted” area of their own block together to make one cohesive blanket. A border was made and all 13 of the students sat around the Morrisette dining table to whip stitch the edges of the quilt closed, while watching The Grinch and drinking hot chocolate. :,) 

The last class for the 3rd-Year’s History elective as a day long trip to Columbus, MS. The students ended like they began, seeing and sketching the southern vernacular with their wise captain, Dick Hudgens. They were then left to their own devises to finish their final watercolors, and they all, miraculously, finished! The pieces illustrated what the 3rd-years had learned about composition, color, fine water coloring techniques, and the influence of classical design on historic Montgomery homes. The works were displayed in the Morrissette House during the annual Soup Roast, as tradition holds.

Soup Roast bookended the fall semester 3rd-Years’ time at Rural Studio. They got to take one last tour around Hale County to see the amazing 5th-years, graduate students, and leftovers projects. Then, the finally of Soup Roast, the 3rd-Year’s presentation!

The students got feedback from their reviewers about their mechanical exhaust ventilation crawl space foundation (yup that’s a mouthful) and how they approached multiple residents moving into the product line homes. The 3rd-Years presented their ¼ bedroom or “nook” design in Joanne’s modified home through a built mock-up out of 2×6’s and pin up boards, so everyone could see and experience what the space will feel like.

Also, the final quilt was revealed! The students explained the premise of the class and had a conversation with the crowd about how this unconventional representation method expands our understanding of a project, the process of design, and cultivated empathy, in this case with Ophelia. The parade of students, architects, parents, teachers and friends then walked to the project site for Ophelia’s 20K too see the physical progress so far and meet Ophelia! The 13 3rd-Years returned to the site the next day to say goodbye and present her with the final quilt (she was surprised and very grateful). 

The next day, the students packed up the pods, said goodbye to Chastity the mouse and Cupcake the possum, then drove/ flew across the globe to get home, but left with a lot of love in their hearts for Hale County and each other. The fall students felt the honor of borrowing Rural Studio and Newbern as their home for 3 ½ months. For that, they will be forever thankful. Now Ophelia’s 20K is handed over to the spring semester students!

War Eagle to that!  

Neckdown part 1

As the semester kicked off to a rainy start, the team took advantage of the sunny days during the neckdown week to get things done on-site! With the help of Charlie, Livia, Hannah, and Jackie, the new waterline trench was dug, and the CMU block walls were scraped clean and prepped for painting.

Caleb breaking up the concrete foundation walls
Livia making sure the trench was deep enough…for waterlines

While digging the trench, the team and crew found an assortment of whole bricks, dead metal pipes, old terracotta pipes, glass bottles, and remnants of an old foundation. The found bricks were stacked and will be used either on the masonry building to cover the metal beam or as part of the brick “rug” in the finished ground surface at the south end.

Up next, fascia and soffit to be primed and wall painted!

Then There Were Eight

After the threaded rods were trimmed, a torque wrench was used to tighten the nuts to HILTI’s requirement, 60 PSI.

Before the team left for the holidays, the walkway structure was all put up! Thanks to Rowe and Jeff’s help the team finished setting up all eight wall plates, and a few days later Devin and Charlie brought some extra muscle and to site. This facilitated lifting and bolting the “arms” and struts into place. The arms, being the assembly of the three horizontal plates welded together, on which the grate will sit. And the strut is the tube that connects the “arms” to the two plate tabs at the bottom of the plate bolted to the wall.

The future main entrance to the walkway, and point where levels were checked throughout the instalation of the brackets.

A 3x4x1/4 inch angle supports the south end of the grate, which is equivalent to only using half of the bracket.