The month of September and beyond has been very busy! We have been working hard to finish up final designs and construction documents for Rosie’s Home, traveled with Dick Hudgens to some amazing houses for our History Seminar, and worked through iterations of cabinet details for Rosie’s kitchen in Woodshop Class.
The 3rd-year class made a lot of progress on Rosie’s Home this month. We used the “atmospheres” from our last assignment and previous Rural Studio house materials to help us design different features for Rosie’s Home. We worked through new ways to implement storage, lighting, acoustics, and ventilation from these material studies.
While we designed these details, we had the opportunity to learn and help out with an ongoing project with a visiting team from University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. They are collecting public health data samples for the region on our very own Morrisette campus. During their visit, we collected soil samples to be tested in the UNC lab. This research corresponds to our study of healthy materials and how we at Rural Studio can maximize the health of the systems we supply to our clients. Their studies opened our eyes to how much a functional sewer system contributes to the health of a homeowner, and showed us why this is a problem that must be addressed in rural Alabama.
After a week of working on our details, we presented them to Rural Studio’s own Design-Build Manager, John Marusich. This review revealed to us that rather than making several smaller moves to provide Rosie with solutions for storage, lighting, acoustics, and ventilation, we could make one large move to accomplish all four: manipulation of the ceiling plane.
With this idea in mind, we split into four teams. Each team designed the ceiling profile in a different way to enhance the four previously defined elements. In this design process, we presented our ceiling proposals to our Seattle visitors, Kim Clements and Joe Schneider from JAS Design Build, Jake LaBarre from Miller Hull, the Front Porch Initiative team, and our director Andrew Freear. All of these voices helped us to be more practical and intentional with our decisions. Through this iteration and review process, we found our one big move: vaulting the social space in the home.
Most recently, we began the study of the vault in full-scale format. The first step was drafting 1” = 1’ scale details to study the framing of the vaulted space. Using these details, we created three different mock-up versions. We then built these mock-ups on site in their potential locations. Being able to see their spatial effects in person helped us understand what this vaulted space would truly feel like and how it would change the atmosphere of the space.
Wrapping up before Fall Break, we hosted Rural Studio faculty and the 5th-year students on site for a mock-up review. They offered a lot of great feedback and helped us move forward with a clearer design intention. We are so excited to start construction when we get back from break!
The 3rd-year class has been designing Rosie’s kitchen and utility space cabinetry this semester. To start, we split into three designated teams: Upper kitchen cabinets, lower kitchen cabinets, and utility storage for the bathroom and laundry room. In our designs, we are focusing on functionality as it relates to our housing affordability research, accessibility for our client, and healthy materials continued from our studio study. While we worked on our designs, Keith and Dylan Cochran of Wood Studio, in Fort Payne, AL, visited Rural Studio to give us a critique of our progress and a demonstration on cabinetry assembly. This workshop demystified the process of creating a functional system of cabinets.
With each group’s cabinet design in the works, we began a mock-up to test important moments and details. We have been finalizing the dimensions and discussing our design of our mock-up model with our professors Steve Long and Judith Seaman. We are so excited to begin constructing our mock-up after Fall Break and ensure the design is successful for Rosie’s Home!
Throughout the past month, we have been to several Antebellum-era houses with our professor, Dick Hudgens. Each week, we tour the home, learn about its characteristic architectural and construction features, and then complete the day by sketching a portion of the home. Dick has been helping us to improve our sketching abilities each week. He teaches us how to correctly proportion a subject and to go from light to dark with our pencils as we draw.
The first week in September, we visited Magnolia Grove in Greensboro which is about 10 miles north of Newbern. Magnolia Grove contains a detached kitchen in the rear, typical of the era. The columns are crooked because the bricks of lower quality refused for the main home were used for the service outbuildings. We sketched the kitchen and cook’s quarters and the front elevation of the home.
The following week, we drove to Demopolis and visited Bluff Hall and Lyon Hall on the Black Warrior River. At Bluff Hall, we learned about brightly colored paints and the immense wealth that existed in this small town. We sketched a historic quarters of enslaved people, a building that rested on the bluff near the main home, contrasting human injustices to the aforementioned wealth of the area. At Lyon Hall, we had the chance to go on the roof and look out over the city of Demopolis. Lyon Hall also features an old family Bible with historical records of the Lyon family that go back several generations.
Recently, we traveled to the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion in Tuscaloosa. We learned about gasoliers and rich-colored rugs. We sketched an exterior elevation of the home.
This week, we traveled back to Demopolis and visited Gaineswood. Gaineswood was unlike the other houses we have visited and is unique in Alabama. Gaineswood started as a simple dog-trot cabin, but its owner and architect, Nathan Bryan Whitfield, transformed this home into a grand example of Greek Revival architecture. We studied its expansion throughout the decades and looked at its complex roof lines.
In addition to having us travel to and study these historic homes, Dick also assigned us a new watercolor project. This semester, we are charged to make our own natural watercolor pigments from regional sources. To kick-start this, local textile artist Aaron Sanders-Head, of Greensboro, came to Morrisette Campus to help us extract our pigments. After we had a dynamic palette of colors, Dick assigned us to paint a tree to practice our watercolor techniques. We will continue our watercolor activities in the next couple weeks to prepare for our final watercolor project, a Beaux-Arts painting of a construction detail.
We are looking forward to starting construction on Rosie’s site in the next couple days and for the Halloween Reviews in a few weeks. Stay tuned to see our progress and what our costumes will be!