This past week Reggie’s Home team focused on minimizing the interior footprint of the home. In order to do this we had to take a step back and clearly identify the diagram of our home.
Since we’ve said from the beginning that the site is the house, it is very important to clarify what site connections we want to achieve. In this design, the living/kitchen area will have a direct connection to the old chimney, the bedroom will have a connection the cedar tree on the site, and the bathroom/core area will serve as a bridge between the two spaces.
The next step was to identify the roof conditions. Different areas of program could require different levels of coverage from the rain and sun.
Establishing the amount of enclosures will be important in determining the sizes of the interior spaces.
We believe that by minimizing the interior footprint we can maximize the expansion to the exterior. Next we have to decide how much we want it to expand and what the activities will be in those spaces.
Along with diagramming, we created perspectives that highlight qualities we want in the home.
At the end of last week, we presented to Peter Landon, founder and principal of Landon Bone Baker Architects. The conversation focused on taking the connection to the exterior a step further and make it part of our design process. Next week we will continue to move our design forward while keeping in mind that the exterior conditions need to be designed along with the home to strengthen their connection.
This week we have been hard at work moving forward the design of Reggie’s Home. After a week of design charrettes and model making, we presented to Peter Gluck, Leia Price, and Sam Currie. The conversation focused on the essential aspects of the home: a roof, a bathroom, and a place to spend time outside.
We are exploring the idea that the roof functions as the organizing system for the home below. It could be used to collect rain water as well as provide shade and shelter for the outdoor areas of the home. Although the roof may be slightly bigger than the home it will be the gift for Reggie that could be filled in and inhabited in the future.
We will be examining strategies that minimize the square footage of the interior rooms and maximize the occupiable exterior spaces.
It’s important that we consider the connection of the home’s exterior with the rest of the site. We have been able to learn a lot about the landscape and how the site is currently used while demolishing the old family home and through deeper site analysis.
Next week we will continue our research on passive systems as well as charrettes of our design.
Hello from Reggie’s Home! In an effort to create a design that fully responds to the conditions of the site we decided to conduct some soil test to determine where the best places to grow Reggie’s desired fruits and vegetables would be. In order to conduct the test we divided our site into three parts: the front of the site, the part where the old family home stood, and the back of the site where Reggie has been cutting down privet. We collected soil from these areas and sent them to Auburn University’s soil testing laboratory to be tested.
We have also been researching the plants Reggie wishes to grow to figure out what type of sun and soil they need, as well as what seasons the crops would be harvested. This research and the soil test results led us to determine the best place for Reggie to have a garden would be the north side of the site. With this information we were able to get a more accurate master plan of the site.
In addition to researching plants available to grow on our site we also continued our research with Earth Tubes, a form of passive heating and cooling. Earth Tubes are essentially buried ventilation ducts that heat or cool the air moving through them because of the constant temperature of the soil. A big question that comes with Earth Tubes is whether or not it will work in our climate due to the humidity. Lucky for us, the Rural Studio Farm Storehouse uses earth tubes in an effort to keep produce at a constant temperature. We have been monitoring the temperature and humidity outside the storehouse and outtake of the Earth Tube to see how effective it is. After a month of recording temperature we discovered a change of temperature from 6-10 degrees. With this information we contacted Adam Pyrek, an Environmental Controls professor from the University of Texas at Austin, to consult whether Earth tubes would be feasible as part of our home design. He encouraged us to continue the research on the temperature and humidity of the storehouse and to keep in mind that Earth Tubes are ideal for keeping a small space at a constant temperature.
With all this information we will be pushing the design of the home as well as the site as a whole forward!
This week the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Team got to use the largest skill saw they’ve ever seen and we’ll tell you why!
In the technical workshop Sal last week, the team decided to narrow the number of materials they will test throughout the experimental cycle from four to two. The lucky two will be concrete and softwood! Concrete is often used as a thermal mass material while softwood is not which will make comparing the data collected from the separate experiments all the more interesting. The Optimal Tuning Theory calls for the thermal mass to be externally insulated which allows the thermal mass material to be much thinner than a typical thermal mass. Therefore, the concrete and wood need to be panelized.
The thermal properties of wood act most efficiently as a thermal mass when the cross grain is exposed to the air. This means that panelizing the softwood is more like creating giant cutting boards. To practice this process the team used 8″ x 8″ Cypress timbers and their matching 16″ diameter skill saw leftover from the Newbern Town Hall project. The team learned that 6″ x 6″ timbers would be ideal for their project, that way they can cut the cross-grain pieces in one cut with their 16″ skill saw without having to rip down the timber.
The concrete panels are far more straightforward, build a mold, pour the concrete, let it cure. However, the team has to think about how the panels would be attached to a larger structure. To solve this they cast PVC into the panel which will allow it to be screwed into a structure.
Voila! We have much refining to do of the panel making process, but the first two turned out well. We also have here a rendering of the habitable structural with the separate concrete and wood panel rooms. Our next step is to apply what we learned working with these materials to designing and building our first experiment. Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Team out.
After our presentation at Soup Roast we decided to take a step back from the house design and consider permaculture in order to get a better understanding of the conditions of the site. Permaculture can be be defined as meeting human needs through ecological and regenerative design.
In order to gain a further understanding on what permaculture is and how we can incorporate it into our design we had a rapid flash intro to permaculture taught by our very own Eric Ball. Eric is Rural Studio’s farm manager since 2012 and he holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from Oregon State University, in addition to his BS in Biology and Philosophy from the University of Oregon. In a series of two hour long classes we learned that permaculture is a design strategy that allows one to integrate systems within the design. This gave us the stepping stones to better analyze our site and how all the systems will work together as well as a way to present them to others who don’t know the site as well as we do.
Through this process we developed three site analysis maps: a sector analysis map that documents how energies move through the site (such as noise), a water flow and topography map that shows how water moves through the site, and a microclimate analysis map that clearly documents the areas on our site that different in climate, soil type, and ground conditions. Microclimates can be affected by an area’s aspect, solar orientation, airflow, and vegetation.
Our next steps are to take the information we learned and create a master plan of our site. This will allow us to lay out good patterns for the landscape before we get down to the details.
In addition to the permaculture class we built Reggie a composting outhouse before we left Newbern for winter break. We have been researching composting toilets as a part of our design, and this will be a great test run to see if Reggie is comfortable with it. In this dry system, all Reggie has to do is use the bathroom and add sawdust to start the composting process. Composting is not only great in the sense that it will minimize water usage but it also doesn’t smell bad (against popular opinion!) and the humanure can be mixed in with regular compost to be used in a garden.
In order to build the outhouse we re-used a closet mock up from Horseshoe Farm Homes Project as the structure. Once we made adjustments to the closet we collected sawdust from the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project team and put it in a barrel for Reggie to have on site.
Our next step is to continue research with the soil in our site to determine what areas are better for growing different plants. We also plan to gather data on the temperature and humidity of the earth tube system on the storage house on Morrisette Campus to verify if it would be an effective passive strategy for our design.