rs5thyears

Rural Studio is Inside Out

The Studio has been making the best of COVID-19 obstacles by prioritizing outdoor work for the past six weeks! Working outside has given students and staff the ability to learn about construction processes while also maintaining healthy and safe work protocols. Luckily, Rural Studio has quite a few tasks to accomplish around Hale and Perry County to keep them busy.

Perry Lakes Park student team at the end of a long work day

In the first couple of weeks of the semester, everyone came together (socially-distanced, of course) to clean up Morrisette campus. This work included laying and tamping gravel in the driveways, demolishing some old mock ups and a couple unused storage sheds, power washing the Great Hall and Fabrication Pavilion, and helping Eric on the farm.

Students have also been helping out at Perry Lakes Park, which has been closed for maintenance for the past few months. The Studio hopes that, after a little bit of work, they can help reopen the beautiful park to the public. Jobs to be completed were: replacing rotting boards on the bridge, walkways, and tower; replacing structural members underneath the walkways; rebuilding walkways that had been hit by fallen trees; and replacing rotting deck boards on the tower. This work is still in progress, but they expect to have the majority of the tasks complete in the coming week.

As the semester progresses, students have been working toward creating a balance between studio work and site work. On designated “studio days,” 3rd-year, 5th-year, and graduate students have been meeting with their faculty at new open-air pin up spots on Spencer House’s porch and under the Fabrication Pavilion. Next week, 5th- and 3rd-year will transition away from studio-wide work toward focusing on their own class projects. The 5th-years will soon choose their project teams and 3rd-years will start making more progress on 20K Ophelia’s Home!

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

Let’s Heat It Up

This week Reggie’s Home has been focusing on what systems we could use to make the Alabama climate feel more thermally comfortable. Reggie does not want A/C in his new home which means our design has to focus on heating and cooling using passive methods. While considering what passive strategies to use it has been important for us to keep in mind that although the summer can get very hot, Alabama is actually a heating climate. This means that there are more days in which spaces would need to be heated rather than cooled. So far we have been researching cooling with simple methods like cross ventilation, the use of a fan, and using a dehumidifier. In terms of heating we’ve been looking at how we could use earth tubes and a wood stove. 

Earth tubes are tubes that run underground and precondition the temperature of incoming air before it enters the building. In the winter, the ground is warmer than the air, meaning that the air is warmed as it passes through the tubes. In certain climates it is believed that earth tubes can change the temperature of the air up to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. While doing this research one big question always comes up; how do we know it’ll work in our climate? Lucky for us we have been able to gather data from Earth tubes used in our own backyard!

In 2016, a combination of earth tubes and a solar chimney was used as a passive system for the storehouse on Rural Studio’s Morrisette Campus. The exchange was optimized to create a temperature difference of 15 degrees Fahrenheit between the exterior and interior. In order to test if it’s working the way it was designed we placed temperature sensors outside the storehouse and within the tube in the interior of the storehouse. Through the months of December to February we can see that on average the highest temperature change is 6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Now the question becomes, how much of a difference is 6 degrees Fahrenheit when it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside? This leads us to research different methods that could work instead of or in addition to earth tubes. To help with heating we have been exploring the option of a wood stove which would work as a constant space heater within the home. If placed correctly, a wood stove would be more than enough to heat the entire home.

This coming week we will continue to move our design forward and use the research of these systems to determine how we can optimize the performance of the home. In the mean time enjoy these pictures of the team incase you forgot what we looked like! 

Until next time,

Reggie’s Home