20KProject

Raising the Roof at Ophelia’s

Shop and History

Between portraits of Russian monarchs, a stroll through a Greek themed yard, and getting to feed some chickens, Oak Hill is definitely the most unique house tour the students have had the honor of partaking in. Before COVID, the owner had thrown a Russian monarch themed party and chose to keep some decorations. One room is filled with colorful furniture, beautiful glass vases, and extravagant curtains. In another room portraits of Russian monarchs hang by string like they would have been in the 1800s.

Outside, classical Greek-styled statues stand side by side with modern takes on the statues. Some pieces are left to be “dissolved” back into nature. After the tour, the students drew an elevation of the main house and of the cabin, which we believe turned out pretty great.

Shop class has been filled with exciting new ideas and crazy curves. Steam bending, while frustrating at times, has opened a whole new world of woodworking to the students. It will be exciting to see how our curvy wood works will turn out!

Ophelia’s Home Site

To finish truss prep-work, large bolts were put through the beam to fully brace it, and the columns were given another layer of bracing. All the prep work payed off because the trusses went up fairly easily. Steve Long came out to site with the Bobcat, the studio’s skid steer loader, to provide some much appreciated help. Steve long used the Bobcat to first lift a truss, guided by 3rd-year Ethan, above the walls. Then a team of 3rd years with Professors Emily McGlohn and Chelsea Elcott directed the trusses into place and adjusted them until plumb. Temporary bracing was put on the trusses as everyone held them in place.

Once all the trusses were on the walls, and they were put in the correct spots, permanent bracing started going up. Next week, the rest of the permanent bracing will be placed by the roof and enclosure teams while the framing team starts work on the front porch! We are so excited to have the roof raised and to be finally building Ophelia’s front porch!

Festive Frights and Bewildering Beams

Shop and History

This week 3rd-year students started a new project in woodshop class which taught them the technique of steam bending. The project brief is quite open ended; make something “useful” using steam bending. The open nature of instructions will help students really use their creativity. After the great results from the cutting boards, it will be exciting to see what students come up with next!

In history this week, Dr. Hudgens had the students complete their final Design Problem for the semester. Third years have now completed 3 of these Design Problems and look forward to their final review on their last Monday at Rural Studio, November 23rd.

Ophelia’s Home

At Ophelia’s Home this week students continued to prepare for the incoming roof trusses. They put up a beam on the front porch of Ophelia’s home which the trusses connect to in order to create a covered outdoor space. Trusses will span from the back, western wall to the front, eastern wall and over the front porch, resting on the beam. The roofing team placed the brackets, called hurricane ties, on the top plates of each wall for the trusses to secure into. The Enclosures Team and the Framing Team worked together to level the columns on the porch. They also attached the beam on which the trusses will rest. A meeting with Professor Emily McGlohn’s father – a structural engineer – helped solidify the roof team’s trusse placement and bracing. Now that Ophelia’s Home is prepped for the trusses, it’s time to raise the roof!

Creepy Crepe Myrtles

Studio

This week students have started to look into pole barns! Over the past two years, Rural Studio has started to explore the use of pole barns as a way to address modular homes and planning to expand as family dynamics shift. Students heard from last year’s pole barn team as well as structural engineers about pole barn design and structure.

Horseshoe Courtyard

This week at the Horseshoe Courtyard project: concrete and trees! After cleaning many bricks and witnessing the concrete pour, students were also eager to see the arrival of the Crepe Myrtle trees to the courtyard. With help from Mason and the augur, students finished digging the holes for and planting the first three trees in the courtyard. 

Perry Lakes Park

A few 3rd-years took a trip out to Perry Lakes Park to continue sprucing it up. They discovered the “secret lake bridge,” and were given the chance to repair it. Now anyone can go looking for the secret lake! Students also helped power wash some of the wood in order to keep the path less slippery.

Beginning Design

In considering the programmatic layout for the 2020 20K, we started by analyzing the programmatic layouts of the existing one-bedroom 20Ks and comparing their spatial organizations with our project goals. We liked the logical flow from public to private areas of the “Long Linear” schemes (such as Dave’s), however we felt that the narrow width limited the programmatic possibilities. In contrast, the “Horizontal Bar” schemes allowed for a longer front porch, increasing the area of this valuable outdoor living space. The “Squarish” plan is the most efficient; however, these homes feel smaller than the others when viewed from the outside because they lack a long façade.

In conjunction with our 20K analysis, we also selected a few precedence to study. The three that we settled on were: The Chamberlain Cottage by Marcel Breuer & Walter Gropius, The Sea Ranch Cottage by William Turnbull & Assoc, and Andrew’s Home (architect unknown).

After testing these programmatic layouts in plans of different dimensions, we arrived at a layout inspired by the Sea Ranch Cottage. This plan was not only the most efficient layout but it also provided for the most interior flexibility (allowing for an additional bedroom to be carved out of the living/dining room in the future).

Testing programmatic layouts and dimensions
Situating the plan within the pole barn

By using the post-frame construction method, we are able to build a larger roof and slab structure than previous 20Ks. Although we are still building a one-bedroom 20K, our plan is to situate the home within a larger structure that will allow for easy expansion in the future. Given the constraints of around a 500-600 square-foot home, situated within around a 1000 square-foot superstructure, we began to design the exterior space. From our visits to past 20Ks and other homes in the area, we set some parameters for the width of the exterior space (with a minimum of 6’ to allow for a comfortable sitting porch, and a maximum of 12’ to allow for light to penetrate into the home). With these parameters in mind, we looked at various ways in which our plan could fit within the larger superstructure, settling on two schemes to investigate further, what we call the “L” scheme and the “Front/Back” scheme.

2020 20K Home

Hello from the new graduate students!

Devin Denman graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in City and Regional Planning and minor in Sustainable Environments.  She has been living in San Francisco for the last ten years and most recently working as an owner’s representative on public housing rehabilitations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Although she thoroughly enjoyed working in the field, she found herself continually frustrated with the system. Devin was also longing for hands on experience of actually building instead of watching the process. After one too many lunch rants about bureaucracy and red-tape, a friend convinced her academia might be a positive direction to take her passion for housing affordability.

Charlie Firestone graduated from Cornell University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Architecture. Since then, he’s been practicing in New York City as a designer and project manager for Matiz Architecture & Design. His work in New York primarily involved interior renovations for universities and other non-profits throughout the city. Charlie came to Rural Studio to pursue his master’s degree with the hopes of learning how to participate in public interest design, integrating design-build into his practice, and reconnecting with academia. Charlie is passionate about social justice and he is excited and honored to be working on a project to help provide affordable, beautiful, and durable housing to the under-resourced population of the rural South. 

The 20K project started 15 years ago with the aim of providing affordable, efficient, durable, and buildable homes for low-income residents of the rural South. The goal of the project was to provide an alternative to the only option currently available in a similar price range: a used manufactured (mobile) home. Mobile homes are not only manufactured out of state (and therefore not feeding back into the local economy) but they also will only degrade in value over time (rather than increase in value as well-maintained stick-built houses will).

The “20K” label arose from the original price tag established in 2005 as the total price of a house that someone in the lowest income bracket (living on government assistance) could afford to make a mortgage payment on. The actual price has increased over time, but the name and the goal of designing homes that could be purchased by anyone, have remained the same. 

Over the years, Rural Studio has continued to develop and test various designs for one and two bedroom models of the 20K Home, investigating different aspects of the issue each year – from nailing down an appropriate material palette, to testing different foundation and platform methods, to developing a handicap accessible model, to pushing the envelope with sustainability practices.

This year, our mandate is to go back to the basics. Our first task is to go through the budget with a fine-tooth comb, to update the original study from 15 years ago and to nail down exactly who the 20K client is, what they can afford, and what developments from the past models we can incorporate into our 20K design and stay within a strict budget. 

Over the course of a year, we will research, design, and build a one-bedroom 20K home. The plan is to break ground mid-spring with final completion by mid-summer 2020. Currently, we are in the weeds of research and process design. The plan is to address our list of principles/goals/questions, which we have divided into three categories of focus: Cost, Performance, Program – all under the umbrella of maintaining a rigorous budget in the spirit of the 20K legacy. The beauty of the 20K is in its simplicity. Adding more is easy, but not always the best solution.