Author: Logan Lee

Just a Bunch of Toilet-Trees

Hello again, and welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse team blog! The past few weeks have been super busy, but they have also been very fun and festive. We are excited to show what we’ve been up to!

Every year, Rural Studio goes all out for Halloween. To begin the events, our team enjoyed taking a small break in the work of our project to carve pumpkins and spend time with the 3rd-years. We also got to know more of our neighbors. 

The festivities continued through to the day of Halloween Reviews. The day began with the long-awaited reveal of everyone’s costumes. Our team made our debut as a clever pun on the bathroom word “toiletries.” (Obviously, the ladies misunderstood the assignment.)

The good times kept rolling with reviews of each project while everyone remained in costume, of course. We presented to a wonderful group of reviewers after lunch and received an abundant amount of excellent feedback. 

The day of mischief ended with a parade of the costumes and the crowning of the costume contest champs, ahem, yours truly.

Students in costume walk across road

Since Halloween, we have had more presentations and reviews with visitors. 

First, Frank Harmon and Dan Wheeler visited Newbern. They gave our team something beautiful: constraints. They spent a morning with us charretting through smaller floor plan iterations within a boundary determined on site. 

We found this to be extremely helpful since it gave us a framework for making decisions. Frank and Dan challenged us to fully consider the prospect of adding a kitchen and dining space into the program as well as to really imagine the experience of occupying the spaces within our building, especially the showers.

Frank and Dan ended their visit with an informative and refreshing sketching and watercolor workshop around Newbern!

More recently, we welcomed David Baker, Amanda Loper, and Brett Jones from David Baker Architects into the fold. They challenged us to remember the scale of the campus as well as to really dive deep into the sizes of pieces of program. 

Man sketches as team and others watch on

After another charrette with them thinking about these concepts, the team made a full-scale mockup of a plan to see its size and relationship to the objects surrounding. It was great to also see the size of a kitchen within our building!

Our team is excited to move forward with a clear logic for placing the building. We feel that it is important to place the building in an open bay of the Supershed to allow covered access from the Pods. By placing the building next to the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Pods, the street edge is reestablished and activated. The public spaces such as the kitchen, dining, and laundry will front the Supershed, while the private spaces such as the bathrooms and showers will spread out toward the forest to the North.

We are continuing to work through plan iterations but we have also begun to zoom in to look at what the experience of showering and bathing could look like. These models explore different ways to arrange the spaces: apertures for allowing light to enter, apertures for allowing views out into the forest, and different types of fixtures and materials.

We look forward to continuing these studies and working through floor plans further. We are quickly moving towards Thanksgiving break and Soup Roast will be here before you know it!

Thanks for reading along and stay tuned for an update soon!

Team of 4 students poses inside mocked-up floor plan

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan

Howdy from Hale County!

Hello Dearest Reader,

After several weeks of workshops, we are excited to finally introduce the world to the Rural Studio Bathhouse Team! We are so happy to begin this journey and hope you will follow along with us as we complete this project!

The 4 Team Members pose in front of Red Barn

The Team

Carla Slabber | Chattanooga, TN

Ambar Ashraf | Atlanta, GA

Logan Lee | Decatur, AL

Ashley Wilson | Wetumpka, AL

The Project

As our team’s name implies, we are designing a bathhouse facility for the Morrisette’s campus housing pods. This facility will provide much needed showers, toilets, sinks, and laundry space, for an expected 16-person cohort of 3rd-year students. The team is also considering an addition of a kitchen into the program, which could more closely connect 3rd-year life to Rural Studio Farm.

Through the workshops and for the past few weeks, the team has studied the site and investigated patterns of human movement and interaction, as well as water runoff and location of trees. This has provided a basis for general site placement options, which are still being considered.

The team sketching through site strategies and placement options
Student looks through surveying tripod
Ambar and team surveying the site directly around the existing pod structures

This project continues the Studio’s exploration of mass timber as a more sustainable and appropriate local way to build. Our team has been given the challenge of creating a beautiful and functional bathroom facility out of wood, while also having to manage water, humidity, and ventilation.

Because our project continues the exploration of mass timber, we have spent time studying historical precedents in the area, such as the Folsom Seed Barn, as well as previous wood projects that Rural Studio has completed. These include the Newbern Town Hall and the more recent Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project and Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project. This has opened our eyes to different types of timber construction, including stacked-log construction and layered mass timber assemblies.

Folsom Seed Barn
Historical Precedent – Folsom Seed Barn in Marion, Alabama

As a team, we are continuing the study of layered assemblies, specifically cross-laminated timber and dowel cross-laminated timber. We are also studying rainwater collection strategies and how that can be used in our facility. We continue to look into overall site run-off and how that may affect our project as well.

To begin the process of designing the facility, the team is simultaneously working through plan sketches and study models. These models are designed based on the nature of working with planes of mass timber. They explore both the spatial and structural qualities of this material, as well as how natural light and ventilation can begin to be introduced into these spaces.

Model made with wood
A model made to show structural elements, infill materials, and natural lighting and ventilation strategies
Model made with wood
A model exploring a multi-floor structural system

These models have provided us with a very interesting way of thinking about our project. We are not simply creating a form, but using a system of modules and planes to create spaces. This allows for simple expression of structure and materiality, while also allowing for the addition and subtraction of additional modules.

Moving forward, we look to lock down the project’s placement on our site. We also will continue exploring the possibilities of our project through additional models as we move toward Halloween Reviews.

The team poses in front of Red Barn

Thank you for reading along and we hope that you will continue to follow along with us as we continue this journey together! Be on the lookout for updates soon.

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan