foundations

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 

Can You Dig It?

Last time we talked, the team was preparing to get into the ground, so let’s dig in!

As soon as the team returned from graduation, we wrapped up our mock-up construction. We then stepped back and reflected on our details, figuring out what worked and what needs improvement. It was exciting to get a sneak peek at what’s to come for the actual units. Simultaneously, we started site prep!

First up on site, batter boards! (The drawing doesn’t stop in studio people!) Batter boards are a way for us to draw in real life. Each colorful string pulled across our site represents a line in one of our CAD drawings. Using a combination of strings and wooden stakes, we’re able to create a very precise footprint of the units on the ground. This helps us know exactly where to excavate the trenches for our footings as well as the final height of the CMU block wall.

Speaking of footings, we determined the appropriate footing size for the porch’s 14’ overhang. Pouring a really robust footing allows us to expose the thin “spaghetti” trusses marching along the porch header while still taking into account the uplift that may occur at the columns.

With all of our site prep up and going, we’re ready to dig. Cross your fingers and toes, and with any luck, we’ll be up and out of the ground in no time. Until then, over and out.

very cute kittens
The team also gained a few helping paws on site. Meet Okra, Duo, and Mouse!