mockup

At long last; a mock-up, a Pig Roast & 4 master’s degrees!

Live from inside the mock-up that spanned seasons, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project team! You may remember the mention and drawings of a mock-up back in January. Many things interrupted steady work on this mock-up including breaking ground, pouring foundations, steel design, steel fabrication, writing papers, installing drainage, designing the cooling porch, and testing concrete panel joinery types. However, after all this time, the mock-up is complete! In the two weeks before Pig Roast and graduation from the master’s program, the TMBV student team not only hoisted the test building columns and submitted a paper detailing their experiments, they also completed two mock-ups. That’s right, two–we’ve got a bonus!

Faux SIPs and Small Columns

Axon and Axon section drawings of the pod mock ups

This mock-up set out to test the ventilated roofing and cladding system while also allowing practice for some of the atypical waterproofing details caused by the chimneys. All elements of the mock-up are at full scale, however, these elements are taken from different sections of the Test Buildings and condensed. Therefore the real Test Buildings are not proportionally larger than the mock-up. Another disclaimer; the team only built one mock-up because the two Test Buildings are exactly mirrored.

The team first assembled wall, roof, floor, and chimney stud formed panels with exterior OSB sheathing on both sides. These acted as stand-in Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) which make up the enclosure, structure, and insulation of the Test Buildings. Next, they assembled these faux SIPs atop three shortened columns which have the same thickness and base plates as the Test Building columns.

Groovin’ and Waterproofin’

Next up–keep it dry with tar paper and roofing. Tar paper is a heavy-duty construction paper made with asphalt which repels water. The TMBV team wrapped the entire structure in tar paper in a shingling pattern to create a protective layer. After this, the team started roofing.

To minimize heat gain the roofing material is a light-colored, reflective 3/4″ corrugated metal. The metal is attached atop batons which run in parallel with the slope of the roof. This allows the roof to vent heat at the highest point of the structure. If there is one thing this team has learned in two years–hot air rises.

The team installed the flashing along with the roofing. Flashing is a thin piece of impervious material installed to prevent the passage of water into a structure from a joint or as part of a weather-resistant barrier system. The TMBV test buildings use galvanized aluminum as flashing. A large tray prevents water from slipping under the metal roofing while T-shape pieces seal the edges and create the corners.

Finishing Touches

A mini-door frame was fabricated by Brad Schmidt of Superior Metal Works LLC in Newbern, AL. He will also be fabricating the full-size door frames. This was the bit of steel the TMBV team left to a professional–boy does he do nice work! The team painted the door frame with galvanizing paint, as they did the mock-up columns, to see how all the colors of the steel, roofing, flashing, and cladding work together. The door frame installation couldn’t have gone smoother!

Last, but certainly not least, the cypress cladding. 3/4″ 1″x 6″ and 1″ x 8″ cypress boards were sanded and sealed with Kabotz wood bleach. Spaced at 1/4″ the boards created an open joint cladding system, which like the roof, allows for air circulation behind the cladding. Cladding the chimneys and the underside, which will be the cooling porch ceiling, was the trickiest part. Doing the mock-up, however, teaches the students tips and tricks for doing the real thing.

Fin!

Not much more to say, just look at that mock-up!

cmpleted mock-up with cladding and roof
Enscape rendering of Test buildings
How’s it look compared to the real thing?

Suprise: Mini-Wall!

The team also completed ANOTHER concrete wall mock-up testing a shiplap joint in between the thermal mass panels. This wall is a proportionally smaller version allowing the team to visualize the pattern on the wall as well as the screw spacing. The shiplap joint, from both a constructability and scientific validity standpoint, is a crowd favorite. Not to mention that craft and beauty…

Roasting in the Sun

On a bright, early, shiny Tuesday all the Rural Studio 2021 Spring Semester student, faculty, and staff enjoyed an in-house Pig Roast. This included an opening ceremony at the beautiful Horseshoe Courtyard, presentations from each team, a ribbon cutting ceremony at Ophelia’s Home, and lots of good food.

After a BBQ lunch, the TMBV team sprang something else heavy on the audience… their project! They had a wonderful discussion with the only outsiders at the celebration; Architects Roy Duvall, of Duvall-Decker in Jackson, MS, and John Forney. It was wonderful to show off all the hard work the students have accomplished since October 2019. From experimentation and coding data to SIPs detailing and steel fabrication these students have continually jumped into waters unknown.

Overall, Pig Roast was wonderful, but the work was not over. Pre-Roast the team installed their columns and finished their mock-ups. Post-Roast they had to complete a paper detailing their TMBV experiments and results for an international building science conference. They worked tightly with Salmaan Craig for the rest of the week. Because, of course, the paper was due that Friday and graduation was also that Friday.

Congrats Grads!

This team just couldn’t function without the variation of personalities and skillsets. No two are alike, and sometimes it’s hard, but they couldn’t be more thankful for ending up on this wild ride together. 4 hours before the paper was due, Cory and Livia scooted to Auburn for graduation. Jeff and Rowe continued working with Salmaan, up until the deadline, for which the other two are eternally grateful. Jeff and Rowe were at graduation in Livia and Cory’s hearts illustrated below. Don’t worry. the whole gang will celebrate together with a classic Cory cook-out. Stay Tuned for the impending construction of the TMBV Test Buildings!

A Test and a Toast

With a slab all squared away and the school year wrapped up, it’s about time for Myers’ Home team to start realizing some of the above-ground details. At the Studio, this means constructing a 1:1 mock-up of the corner with the most complicated detailing.

Rain Day? It’s OK!

What to do on a rainy day? Mock-ups are just the thing! If the site is too mucky, head to the Fabrication Pavilion. Toting their tools from the trailer on site they set up for a few days of dry, covered work. On the business side of things, the team is waiting on an order of dimensionally stable cypress. They will be constructing a separate mock-up of the shop-built window units for the home. Keep those ears open for news of these hooligans hitting the woodshop for a pre-fab frenzy!

First step, framing the faux corner. They build the base of the mock-up using the same methods as a full-sized stud wall. Madeline and Judith assembled some very small headers and Riley cut piece after piece for the scaled-down trusses. Full-sized trusses will be 24 feet wide and roughly 13 feet tall, with Myers’ Home clocking in at just over 23 feet total. What can they say, it’s a two-story!

Zipped and Flashed

They then fasten on the ZIP sheathing system and tape all the seams up. The Studio has moved away from OSB sheathing and home wrap in recent years and adopted ZIP sheathing in turn. The panels themselves are weatherproofed and thick tape that is rolled tight seals the edges. The system covers both walls and roof and is is one of the clearest ways this team has been able to maintain the protected “shell” of Myers’ Home.

Riley and Judith took a jaunt up to Sloan Metal in Warrior, AL, with a pit stop in Tuscaloosa to grab their flashing order at Metro Metals. Trailer in tow, the mock-up roof metal and a few test sheets for siding were clinched and toted back to Hale. The flashing details have been designed in support of the tight shell, unbroken by rafters and durable over time. The low-eave detail has a 2-inch overhang and J-bead corners keep the edges clean.

Pick a Color, Any Color!

Actually, pick one of two colors. The team has narrowed down to Ash Grey and Burnished Slate, two neutrals that both have a lovely degree of reflection. As it goes, and not to brag, but the site is just beautiful. Wide fields to the east and west, high trees surrounding that cast dappled light. It really doesn’t need much more added to its palette. The team began looking at neutrals and complimentary colors and settled on the these two grey tones to test.

Riley going at it

Cutting the corrugated panels to size, they decide to forego fastening the siding so that panels could be changed and tested. With Pig Roast imminent, the mockup was moved out to the site to be able to test both options throughout the day.

Changing the siding to stopwatch and audience eyes at Pig Roast!

Most surprising has been watching them throughout the day, the colors both seem to shift through morning and afternoon between warm, cool, and highly reflective of grass and sky.

Still Reading? Let’s Have a Party!

Pig Roast dawned, a beautiful Tuesday in Hale County. An in-house event, but livelier than ever, the small band made their way from project to project with some delicious pit-stops around town. Congratulations to Horseshoe Courtyard, a fantastic kick off the day’s festivities and a bubbly surprise! With the jessamine blossoming the crew toasted the year, the work, and the people and enjoyed a sweet morning snack from the new local bakeshop, Abadir’s Pastry

Then the gang caravanned to Newbern for the ribbon cutting of third-year project, Ophelia’s Home. Can’t forget a stop at Sweetbriar Tea & Coffee, parked across from Spencer House for the morning! How exciting to see two years of work at its end. What a joy for the teams who’ve had their hands on this project, those who have followed its progress, and of course, Ms. Ophelia!

Four semesters of students have worked on Ophelia’s Home, congrats on completing!

Back to Morrisette House for a barbecue lunch and a trip across the yard to the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation team’s site. After a rousing discussion of scientific breakthrough and imminent pods all gathered at the Fabrication Pavilion to marvel at their complete mock-up! A job well done, Myers’ team can’t wait to see more of Morrisette Campus’ newest—and tallest—addition.

Fun for all ages!

With short run up Hwy-61 the group stopped at Rev. Walker’s Home to hear about their progress as of late. These pole barn pals have their slab in-ground and working hard at getting their roof up next! Looking forward to the coming weeks where the big barn will take shape.

Sweet and Sweaty

The final stop of the day was good ol’ Myers’ Home site. All braved the sweltering mid-afternoon rays to offer their feedback and encouragement as the three team members move into framing the home! The team offered a presentation of the “shell” method and a NASCAR-worthy switch of metal siding panels on the mock-up.

With all projects squared away back to the Great Hall it was for a dinner of fried catfish, hushpuppies, and slaw from neighboring Newbern Mercantile! The evening was capped with a few words and annual traditions from fearless leader, Andrew Freear, a lecture from Jackson, MS-based architect, Roy Decker, of Duvall Decker, and a big, big bonfire complete with s’mores!

While certainly not a normal year, the folks on this team are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to spend the year in Hale and work every day with their minds on the run and boots in the mud. Many, many thanks to the Rural Studio family—faculty, staff, friends, parents, and neighbors—for the love and support. After their graduation celebration back in Auburn, these three are running full steam ahead to a summer in sun swinging hammers!

Myers’ Home team, graduates back in action and cruising for a roof!