designbuild

Excavation Sensation

Hale’s frozen over! Since then, it has melted, soaked, dried, and soaked again. Classic Hale County. But Myers’ Home team broke ground in the fury of it! You may have heard it here first, folks.

Putting a shovel to the ground takes a lot of prep. First they got the dirt on site conditions. This involved first surveying the area. Though not before saying hello some new, sorry moo, neighbors.

Survey the scene…

To begin, both Myers’ Home and Rev. Walker’s Home teams went to Steve Long’s Survey School at Newbern’s own Morrisette Campus to learn the site level basics.

All learned to set the transit to read site elevations on the story pole — the measuring stick. On site, they will draw a grid to measure points and build a topography map. This team went with 80’ by 90’ at 10’ increments for their site grid.

Recording the first corner of the measured grid on site

A well-informed student home-builder tests their soil strength with the pocket penetrometer. Riley and Judith dug four holes on Myers’ Home site at intervals around the footprint. They then took density measurements at descending points spaced 6” apart. The penetrometer is plunged into the wall of the soil and a reading is taken in tons per sq. ft.

Riley digging a 32″ hole for the pocket penetrometer

The team recorded bearing capacity and observed conditions of the site. This informed a plan for excavation and soil replacement. To make this home stable, they’re building an island of engineered soiled. This raft will be a solid bed of engineered dirt, reliable red soil with a definitive bearing capacity.

After speaking with Joe Farrugia, Rural Studio’s consulting engineer extraordinaire, a plan was in place for site excavation and refilling.

Batter up, batter boards!

The team had to place batter boards though before site excavation. At first glance, batter boards are unassuming scrap pieces. The builders level these to near-perfect tolerance around the site. They hold squared strings marking each edge of the footprint of the building.

With the guidance and helping hands of batter board guru, Steve Long, Judith and Madeline set boards for the excavation crew arriving the very next day!

Can you dig it?

The following morning, the local excavating team made their appearance at sunrise. They removed over 2′ of dirt from the area marked by batter boards. Eight (eight!) truckloads of strong engineered soil then arrived, placed in 6″ lifts in the hole. This new dirt was smoothed to ideal home-building elevation (well above the water table) and left to settle as another wave of rain rolled in.

Ready for the next window of sun, this team will be tamping the new soil, trenching for plumbing and electrical, and preparing for THE SLAB.

Formwork makes the Dreamwork

Studio

This week, the 3rd-years worked on creating detail drawings of Ophelia’s Home’s foundation. Being able to see the foundations in person while drawing them is an amazing, unique opportunity. It has quickly given the students an understanding of how crawl-space foundations work. Each student selected a unique piece of the foundation to draw. These drawings will eventually be added onto to create 7 complete section cuts. The drawings show details through the foundation piers, vents, below significant areas, and the front porch. All the drawings were organized onto one construction document sheet, which is a new and very important skill for the 3rd-years to have learned.

Horseshoe Courtyard

This week, the 3rd-years’ continued work at Horseshoe Courtyard consisted of cleaning more bricks. They also began building and setting up wooden formwork for the incoming concrete! Students worked to hammer in stakes, cut wood boards, and drill formwork into place. They are extremely excited (some may say overly excited) about the concrete pour.

Perry Lakes Park

After a few weeks of working in Hale County, half of the 3rd year students ventured out to Perry Lakes Park to help with maintenance and repair. This included working with 5th-year students and graduate students to clear large debris from pathways and replace aging timber boards on the elevated walkways and the Birding Tower. Perry Lakes Park is currently closed to the public until it is rejuvenated. However, once the Rural Studio Students are finished, the park will be open for bird enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, and adventurers alike. 

Building a Catalog

Work over the past couple of months has been very different than what we are used to. Shortly after moving to working virtually it was decided that due to COVID-19 our project would be put on hold until it is safe for Rural Studio to resume normal in-person operations. This means that we are wrapping up the work we have done this year and a future team will carry on the process of designing and building a home for Reggie. With this in mind, our team is creating a book that contains our research and design strategies up until this point. Our hope is that the next team will be able to pick up where we left off and be able to provide a home for Reggie in an effective manner.

Team meeting to discuss book format

During the past seven months we have had the unique opportunity of getting to know Reggie through our time spent on site with him. Our book’s goal is to tell the story of both Reggie and the site, including everything we have learned about him and what will help a future team pick up where we left off.  In an effort to tell Reggie’s story we are explaining the history of the site, what it currently has to offer, and what possible improvements can be made. Reggie wants to live with the site, so our focus has been to stress the idea that Reggie’s Home should be thought about as, “the site is the house.”

To help explain what the site has to offer and show the research our team has done over the past seven months, the second part of our book is a documentation of site analysis. In an effort to provide information that we hope would be most beneficial for the next team, we asked ourselves two simple questions. What does this site have and need in order to support its occupants and function properly? How can the entire site become the home? This section is mainly focused on what systems are already in place on site and what can be added to improve Reggie’s lifestyle.

We’ll be working the next couple of weeks to finish the rest of the book. It will include our design process and a proposal for the future. We understand that a future team will most create their own design so we hope that through this book they will be able to use the information to move forward in their own way and grow to love Reggie the way we have. We are thankful that we have been able to be a part of his story and are excited to see what the future holds for the next team. 

Look out for a link to our finished book in the near future!

Thanks for all the support thus far!

Reggie’s Home

Virtual Studio

This week Reggie’s home has been transitioning to working remotely for the upcoming weeks. Although we are sad that we won’t be able to work in Red Barn we are happy we can continue with our design development. This means that our week began by getting settled into our new “studios”.

After talking to Reggie we decided that we would move forward with the “two porch” scheme because we can have the same qualities as the dogtrot scheme, but build less. This scheme allows for a “front porch” that would function as the outdoor kitchen where Reggie sees himself spending most of his time and a “back porch” that would function as his tool storage area as well as a space where DJ (Reggie’s dog) could be let out, but be contained. We continued to do sketches to see how these two porches relate to the interior of the home and what the levels of enclosure would be required to distinguish all the spaces.

Reggie's Home team zoom call
Team Zoom call to discuss sketches

After discussing the sketches, we decided it would be a good time to begin creating 3D models of our plans to help visualize the spaces we are creating on site. While doing this we plan to keep in mind the moments we’ve been trying to create from our past schemes: an interstitial space where Reggie could work, a bedroom and desk with specific views to the exterior, and an enclosed outdoor space for DJ. Having a clear idea of what we want these moments to be will allow us to have a simple design that is made complex by the way it is occupied.

Until next week!

Reggie’s Home

A Muddy Presentation

At the beginning of the week we (Reggie’s Home) had our “Pre-Stress Test” which is a review with Auburn University faculty to show our progress with the project. During this review it was determined that the best way to move forward was to show Reggie our design and get his input on the decisions we have made so far. We presented on site so we could help Reggie visualize where we plan to place the home. 

Due to the constant rainfall our site was pretty muddy but we didn’t let that stop us from presenting on site. We showed two schemes to Reggie. One which includes a dogtrot that separates the bedroom/bathroom from the living room/kitchen and another which has all the program together with a porch on the east and west sides of the home. 

Reggie was very receptive of the way we imagine him living in the house. One thing we need to keep developing is the outdoor kitchen space because that is where Reggie imagines spending most of his time, rain or shine. In terms of schemes Reggie liked both of them, so our next step is to determine which one would achieve the moments we want to create in a better way. 

Until next week!

Reggie’s Home