Author: Logan Lee

Taking a Slab at It: A Bathhouse Concrete Story!

Hello dearest reader and welcome back to the latest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog!

The past few months have been a very exciting and productive period for the Bathhouse. We are very happy to share what all we’ve been up to since we last spoke!

Students pose for picture on metal deck

At the time of our last update, we had just finished all the underground plumbing and preparing the CMU foundation walls for the floor structure.

We picked up on site where we left off by moving the structural beams into their places in the foundation walls and securing them in place!

View of students looking over metal deck from below
Greetings, Earthlings!

After cutting our metal decking to size, we were able to place the decking and began securing it to the CMU walls. Our good friend, Shane, helped us out by welding the decking down to the beams.

Once the deck was in place, it was time for Spring Break, but we did not take a break from the project. We had a very relaxing week in the woodshop building all the modular formwork for the slab!

Student screws pieces of wood together
Assembling base module supports

Once it was all built, we got busy on site installing the formwork. We started off with ledger boards on the CMU walls, then installed the base support modules and plywood base, and finally pulled strings to set the upright walls in place. We then braced these walls back to the base and added plywood to the inside face, completing the formwork.

image of completed formwork
Finished formwork

When the formwork was set, it provided a nice square base to measure all the penetrations in the slab from. We started off with the holes for the threaded rods.

Next, we marked out all the electrical and plumbing penetrations in the decking and cut them out.

While all of this was going on, we also began plumbing the whole Bathhouse and installing all the electrical conduit and boxes in the crawlspaces. While plumbing was occurring, rebar was being cut to size on the ground. We used bracing attached to the formwork walls to help support the PVC sleeves for the threaded rods and the plumbing and electrical stub outs.

After all the plumbing was completed and tested, we were able to begin putting the rebar reinforcement into place.

The team tied all the pieces together to form a large rebar mat for the slab. With the rebar in place, it was time to add in the last thing, metal mesh, which helps prevent cracking within the slab. The team finished this final step just in time to celebrate at Pig Roast!

We had a great time on Friday night of Pig Roast weekend listening to all the alumni lectures and really enjoyed getting to show off our project and the progress we have made to all our friends and families on Saturday. We finished the day off with an evening of festivities, great food, and wonderful live music.

The team speaking with former Rural Studio student
The bathhouse team meeting and looking at construction photos with original Supershed and Bathhouse team member, Jacqui Hart!

After a weekend of fun, it was quickly back to work for the bathhouse team! First thing Monday morning we got Concrete! An excellent team from JM concrete in nearby Uniontown made quick work of the pour and did a fantastic job with the finishing.

team posing with thumbs-up for concrete
Thumbs up for concrete!

We are so proud to have the heart of the project completed!

As she stands now

We are so happy to share the huge amount of progress being made! Next, we will be preparing to pour all the curbs under the timber walls and beginning the process of stacking the timber modules for the walls.

The team poses in front of project

Thanks so much for reading along and we hope to provide another exciting update very soon!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

Bathhouse Back in Business!

Hi everyone and welcome back to the newest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog! We hope that everyone had a happy holiday season and is having a great new year so far. It has been a very busy month for the Bathhouse team. We are excited to share what we are up to.

picture of 4 PVC pipes with faces drawn on them
Team in PVC form

In studio over the past month, we have had some really extraordinary reviewers. We are especially grateful to Andrew Berman from New York City and our good friend Marlon Blackwell from Arkansas. They have both helped tremendously with the treatment of spaces and materiality on the interior of the Bathhouse!

Marlon Blackwell sketching on drawing
Marlon sketching with us

On site, we are very excited to be pushing quickly toward the pouring of our raised concrete floor slabs. The team is working hard to get all the plumbing in place to be ready to pour. We are also beginning the process of building the formwork for the edges of the slabs.

We started the process by working through the underground pipes. Then, we marked out all the pipes on the ground, indicating where they would run under the breathing wall pods. We also marked where they would intersect with our CMU walls. The team went to town digging once everything was marked out. With the help of a few new, brave 5th-year friends, the digging under the breathing wall pods didn’t take long at all!

picture of finished trenches
Finished trenches!

With the help of Steve and his tools, we were also able to drill all the holes for the pipes to run through the CMU walls.

student drilling through cmu wall
Drilling holes for plumbing through CMU walls

Once the trenches were in place, we began to dry fit all the underground pipes and level them with sand to the necessary slopes.

After dry fitting everything, we worked piece by piece to glue it all together. As of this blog post’s writing, everything has all been glued together! The team will test all the underground lines to make sure there are no leaks in the coming days.

We also picked up the metal beams and decking that will support the slabs and have been preparing them for installation.

We sanded and painted the beams. With Steve’s help and working with his tools again, we were also able to cut the beams to size. And he was able to make the notches in the CMU walls where the beams will sit.

Once the beams and decking are in place, we will install the rest of the plumbing in each crawlspace. The formwork will also begin to go up around the edges of each structure, helping support the cantilevering edges of the slabs. The team is currently working on the design of the formwork and has built a mock-up of one possible support.

Although the main focus has been getting ready for the slab pours, the team has not lost sight of the next major step in the project: the stacked wooden walls! We have also built a table, which we lovingly call the “jig table,” in order to be ready to go with the walls as soon as the concrete is done. It will help us the rest of the project with assembling the stacked modules for the wood walls.

The table will provide a surface to align all the pieces of wood together, allow us to be clamp and fasten them together, and offer stability when we drill the holes for the threaded rods to run through.

picture of finished jig table
Completed jig table!

Thanks for following along and reading this update. We hope that when we speak again, we will officially be done with the slabs and working toward the construction of our wood walls!

student joking with clamp on head
Silly Ambar, clamps are for the wood!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

It’s a Block Party at the Bathhouse!

Hello Dearest Reader,

Welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog. We are so very sorry that we have not provided an update in a while, but we are excited to share the hard work and progress we’ve made recently!

The team poses on site
Jumping for joy because we are finally out of the ground!

When we spoke last, the bathhouse team had just finished with the footings for the outdoor shower. The plan was to continue with the construction of the outdoor shower as the mock-up, before starting work on the rest of the bathhouse.

However, the team, along with Rural Studio instructors, decided to move forward with the foundations for the rest of the building. This would allow the team to be completely out of the muddy ground before the rainiest parts of the winter. This would also allow the block mason to construct all the CMU block walls for the Bathhouse at the same time, which is a big deal!

Image of typical foundation wall detail
Typical Bathhouse Foundation to CMU wall to Slab Detail

So, after spending some time working through drawings and details for the foundations, we got to work. First, we set up batter boards and pulled strings to mark the foundations on the ground. Then, we bent and cut all the pieces of rebar needed for the footings and assembled the rebar cages outside of the trenches while we waited to dig.

Once we were good to go, our friend Tyler Hochstettler from C&T Excavating Inc. came out to Newbern and helped us dig the trenches for the rest of the Bathhouse.

Students pose on site
Thumbs up for Digging Day!

After the excavating was done, we moved the rebar cages into the trenches and poured our concrete footings!

In the middle of preparing drawings and working on site, we also made a mock-up of one of our showers to fully understand the scale of the space. With this mock-up, we used a rainfall shower head and tested heights of the shower head to understand what was comfortable. It also allowed us to see the areas where water would be splashing and landing in the shower. This helped us realize we needed to consider the wall-lining material for the shower, and we learned that the higher the shower head was, the higher the velocity and pressure of the water would be when it hit a person.

Finally, we are very excited to reveal that back on site, we have concrete blocks, as of this week! Our concrete block foundation walls for the whole Bathhouse were constructed by our friend from Newbern, James Harris, and his wonderful crew.

We worked with the crew to install vertical rebar for support as they built the walls. Currently, we are working to fill all the cells that have rebar in them with mortar. We are so excited to see the building finally coming to life and growing up right before our eyes.

Our goal is to finish all the block walls before we take a break from site for the holidays. Once we return in the new year, we will be hard at work preparing formwork and getting all the plumbing roughed-in in preparation for the pouring of our elevated concrete slab. We will also begin testing the stacking of our wood modules for our wall assemblies.

completed block walls
Completed CMU foundation walls
picture of block walls
The outdoor shower!

Thanks so much for reading and following along with the very exciting progress being made at the Bathhouse. We hope you all have a great holiday season, and we will be back with more updates after the new year!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

Breaking a Sweat and Breaking Ground

Hello dear reader and welcome back to the latest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog!

Students pose in front of pin-up wall

So much has happened over the past few months and we are extremely happy to share the progress of what’s going on over at the Rural Studio Bathhouse!

Over the summer, we continued to work through the design of the outdoor shower in preparation for construction. The team has decided to use the outdoor shower and its construction process as a mockup for the rest of the bathhouse structure. With this in mind, the team has chosen most of the main conditions and details of the project and will be testing them out in the outdoor shower.

Drawing of a floorpan
Outdoor Shower Plan

We have also welcomed back some incredible reviewers to provide feedback on the design and construction processes regarding the outdoor shower!

This mock-up will provide the team an excellent opportunity to learn what works and what may need to be reconsidered before the construction of the rest of the building.

While the team was busy designing, the large pine trees and underbrush that were in the way of the building were removed and the stumps were ground, leaving the bathhouse site clean and ready for construction!

In August, the bathhouse team quickly moved into action on site. After learning how to construct batter boards we set them up for the area around the outdoor shower. After this, we pulled strings to level and mark out the foundations on the ground.

At the end of August, we broke ground on the foundations for the outdoor shower! Digging the foundations by hand at this time of year was challenging, but we all made it through some of the hottest days in Hale, unscathed.

The team continued more recently with preparing the foundations for concrete. This has included leveling the trench, cutting all pieces of rebar for the footings, assembling the rebar cage in the trench, and preparing the upturns, which will tie into the CMU block walls that lift the floor of the outdoor shower six feet off the ground!

Finally, as of writing this blog, the team has reached a huge milestone in the construction of the outdoor shower. We have poured the concrete for the foundation with the help of our amazing classmates and professors!

Students pose with poured concrete

Moving forward, we are so excited to continue with the CMU block walls, preparing for the forming and pouring of the elevated slab, and the stacking of our wood walls!

Drawing of a face on a 2x6 board
Also, goodbye from our dear friend, Plumb Bob!

Thanks for reading along, and we look forward to sharing our progress again very soon!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

A Toast for Bathhouse Post-Roast!

Hello and welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog!

We have been hard at work moving the project forward. Sorry it has been a while since we spoke, but we are so excited to provide a much-anticipated update on the progress of our project. Last time we provided an update, we were busy preparing for Pig Roast.

Students stand to present team powerpoint
The team prepared to present at Pig Roast!

The team worked hard and pulled together to produce drawings, a taped-out floorplan, and a dry-stacked mock-up of our outdoor shower for Pig Roast! The day was full of presentations and celebrations of the work done by all teams, as well as music and fun with our families and friends.

A week after Pig Roast, our team made our way to Auburn for a huge milestone in our life—We Graduated! (believe it or not)

After several weeks of celebrations, the team returned to Hale County. To keep the drum beat and momentum going into the summer, we have recently welcomed several visitors back into the fold. 

Kiel Moe and Joe Burns returned to continue helping the team with the structure and better focus the overall design. After discussion with Kiel and Joe, the team has decided to simplify our natural lighting strategy. 

Students and visitors stand in forest, discussing site
Kiel and Joe with the team on site

We are doing this by introducing ambient light into the existing breathing wall pods from clerestories in the north and south walls. In doing so, we are taking advantage of the layered system of construction by just removing layers of the walls to introduce natural lighting. In the toilet and shower pods, we will use large skylights to create a more direct connection to the sky and trees above. 

More recently, Dan Wheeler returned to help with detailing and working through the design of the windows and skylights.

Finally, Jake Labarre returned to help us in preparation for our final executive review. He drew through 1:1 details with us and helped us begin to prepare a drawing set in preparation for construction.

We had our final executive review and are very excited to push hard towards construction! The team is working to produce construction drawings for our outdoor shower, which will serve as a test of most of the details in our project. The team will test the foundations and pouring a slab, stacking the walls and threading the rods through the walls, and attaching the roof structure to the walls. In the end, the outdoor shower will provide the team valuable knowledge for the construction of the rest of the project, as well as a testing ground for fixtures and other finishes that may be considered for the whole building. The team plans to be in the ground for the outdoor shower in the next few weeks. 

Thank you so much for reading along and we look forward to providing another exciting update very soon!

students pose on couch

-Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan