Rural Studio Bathhouse

Preparing for Pig Roast

Hello, and welcome back to the latest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog! We are very happy to share an update on our project after a very busy month. 

group of students presenting to professors and reviewer
The team presenting to Roberto de Leon

March started off with Spring Break. The team took a much-needed rest for a few days but we also spent some time together working in preparation for the first executive review which was a week later. The month wrapped up with two weeks of visitors. 

The first visitor was Pete Landon from Landon Bone Baker in Chicago, Illinois. He helped us think through a wide range of possibilities for the structure of the roof. He even spent a morning helping us mock up different wall to roof assemblies at 1:1 scale using the method of stacking 2”x6” pieces of wood. This activity helped us understand the possibilities of using wood for the entire structure. Pete also encouraged us to create small pieces of wood to use for models in studio.

The month wrapped up with Katherine Hogan and Vincent Petrarca from Katherine Hogan Architects in Raleigh, North Carolina. They really challenged us to be specific about lighting conditions and worked with us through sketching and modeling to develop a clear strategy for structure and daylighting.

To start off the month of April, we welcomed Roberto de Leon from de Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky. He helped us continue to study specific lighting conditions and opportunities, specifically through using the system of stacking to introduce daylight into the spaces.

students looking through model images
Organizing images of light study models

Thinking through daylighting in this way really opened our eyes to the number of lighting possibilities. The system of construction is powerful way to introduce natural light into spaces.

We are very excited to move forward with these studies—and much more—in preparation for Pig Roast, which is very quickly approaching! Here is the most recent floor plan and sections that we are working through. We will integrate these lighting strategies into our design.

drawing of a section through laundry space
Section through laundry room

We are also developing a mock-up of the outdoor shower in the woods for possible use at Pig Roast!

Thank you so much for following along with us. We are super excited with our progress on the project and look forward to providing another update very soon!

-Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan 

Big Bathhouse News

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse Blog! This semester has been super busy for our team. We’ve had several incredible visitors, and we are very excited to share where our project is now!

Students gather around pinned up drawings
The team reviewing with Andrew Berman

After winter break, the team took some time to consider the best path forward for the project. We are considering the possibility of reusing existing structures on campus. As a mass timber project, we were especially intrigued by the idea of reusing—and directly connecting to—the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project pods. The pods were designed as the final scale experiment on breathing wall technology and then were to be used as living pods.

The Breathing Wall team put an exceptional amount of hard work and attention into the structure, and we admire the detailed level of craft that they exhibited. We see the reuse of these pods as a testament and celebration of the amazing work that they did before.

Reusing the Breathing Wall pods will allow the very well-constructed buildings to become a part of permanent infrastructure that all 3rd-year students will be able to inhabit and enjoy. The texture and the warmth of the wood walls will be celebrated when natural light is introduced. Since the entrances to these pods face away from the “Supershed street,” this orientation has the potential to create layers of privacy in the new Bathhouse.

site plan of the supershed
Possible future development of the Supershed

The reuse also sets the Studio up with a strategic plan for development in the future. With the Bathhouse now in the middle of the “Supershed street,” a kitchen/dining space can also be added to the middle of the street, helping strengthen the social aspect of this space. This leaves several other accessible bays of the Supershed open, which could be used for new sleeping pods if needed. This would also help reconnect the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project pods into the streetscape. Re-grading the first four bays of the Supershed will allow for one accessible entry into the Bathhouse (and any further developments), setting the precedent for accessibility on campus for the future.

The visitors for this month challenged us to consider the best organization of spaces for the Bathhouse based on the reuse of the Breathing Wall pods. Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture in Chicago, IL, came back to work in Hale County; they helped us think of the overall concepts and form of the spaces we are creating.

Joe Burns and Dan Wheeler, also from Chicago, IL, re-entered the mix and provided excellent help thinking through several different structural techniques and organizational layouts of the spaces. 

Andrew Berman from New York, NY, challenged us to think about the experience of using a Bathhouse facility within a community of people. This opened our eyes to layers of privacy while reimagining the Rural Studio ritual of using the Bathhouse as a 3rd-year. 

Floor plan of proposed building
Proposed Bathhouse with context

With the help of our visiting consultants, we reimagined the existing Breathing Wall pods as public spaces that include two new structures to provide toilet and bathing spaces. The structures would create a privacy gradient as users move farther from the Supershed and closer to the forest, which would begin to envelope the building. The team is still considering the exact mass timber construction method for the two new structures. A new shed roof will stretch over all the structures, and a series of clerestories will bring natural light into each of the spaces.

sketch of proposed building
Proposed bathhouse with shed roof and screen system

We are very excited to progress with this scheme and work towards construction.

Thanks for following along and we look forward to updating our progress soon!

Team group photo

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan

Bath in the Swing of Things

Happy New Year’s Day, Groundhog Day, and Valentine’s Day!

Welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse Team blog! We have had a very busy winter break and month of January. We are excited to share what we’ve been up to recently.

Over the break, we spent a lot of time reflecting on our work so far and tried to think through ways of making our project more feasible. This led us to reducing the scale of our project back down to just the bathhouse, allowing all our effort to be put into one program and possibly allowing another team the opportunity to design the kitchen/dining space for the pods. We are excited to show our designs very soon!

The first week back in class, we welcomed Jim Stockard and Chris Herbert from Harvard University. Chris Herbert is Managing Director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. James Stockard is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. They graced us with their abundant knowledge of housing and the economics behind it. They also proved to be excellent helpers with our project and challenged us to reconsider how we think about accessibility within it.

Students and faculty review drawings
The team producing to Chris and Jim

To welcome everyone back to campus, all students and faculty participated in the Rural Studio tradition of “Neckdown” during the second week of class. This week of work allows students to get their hands dirty doing tasks around campus and surrounding communities. Tasks for the week included painting the Bodark Amphitheater, the Safe House Museum, the Newbern Firehouse stairs, and the Newbern Playground; we also rebuilt the raised garden beds in the greenhouse and insulated the plumbing underneath Morrisette House and the kitchen. 

More recently, we welcomed Mike Newman and Katrina Van Valkenburgh from Chicago into the fold. They brought with them an excellent knowledge of accessibility and constructability. Mike challenged us to nail down the big ideas of our project, so that we can begin to really understand how to make it happen.

Students and faculty review drawings with reviewers
The team reviewing with Katrina Van Valkenburgh and Mike Newman

We are continuing with the drumbeat of visitors every week and are excited to see where this year takes us! Follow along to see what we are up to each month. 

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley and Logan

Group of students gather around drawings to review together
Yours truly

Eat, Drink, and Get Soup-Roasted!

Welcome back to the latest edition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog!

During the week before Thanksgiving, we welcomed Ann Marie Duvall Decker and Shannon Gathings from Duvall Decker Architects out of Jackson, Mississippi. They presented some of the amazing work they are doing and were an excellent help in providing meaningful feedback of our project. They really challenged us to think about the formal and sectional qualities of our building.

After Thanksgiving, we were hard at work preparing for Soup Roast. We prepared two, 2-bar schemes that explored the different placement options for the kitchen/dining space and the bathhouse, attached to a central accessible maintenance core. Both schemes consider the design of the entry sequence into the Supershed and leave a bay of the Supershed open next to the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project pods for a possible future pod. More sectional ideas for the projects were explored as well, as one scheme looked at using a butterfly roof and the other looked at using a system of skylights. 

The team produced drawings for both schemes and made a full-scale painted out mock-up of one of the iterations to fully understand the spaces.

Drawing boards pinned to wall
The Soup Roast boards showing the two schemes

At Soup Roast, we welcomed back to Hale County some of our old friends, Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from J.A.S. Design Build and Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull in Seattle. We also welcomed Jim Adamson, Mike Freeman, Nicole Abercrombie, and Will McGarity, into the fold of our project. With the reviewers having an abundance of expertise in many different areas, the team was pleased to receive tons of excellent feedback.

Students and reviewers walk around site
The students and reviewers walked around the full-scale mock-up to understand the proposed spaces

After the roasting portion of the day was completed, the team was happy to get to relax and enjoy some delicious soup with friends and visitors!

One of the biggest concerns raised during the review, was the scale and scope of the project. The team spent the day after the review charretting through several ideas on how to reduce the overall size of our project. We have begun working on eliminating extra spaces within the plans and has also investigated the possibility of reusing existing structures on site to reduce the scope of the project. This will continue to be explored in the upcoming weeks as the team looks to settle in on a solution.

students present as reviewers watch
A final presentation of our ideas after the Soup Roast charrette

As this is being written, the team has left Hale County for winter break. This does not mean that the project is on pause. While we are not all together, we are still meeting online and working hard to continue the design process. 

Thank you so much for reading about our project and following along with us. We hope that everyone has a great holiday season, and we cannot wait to show our progress in the new year!

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team 

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan

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