In Summer-y: Innovative Storage, Stunning Screens, and Exciting Construction

Since Pig Roast, we’ve been working hard to finalize the design of our storage cube and screen, order and acquire materials, and start the construction process.

More than just a place to store

To achieve our goal of a continuous pinup surface while maintaining the functionality of the storage cube, our team has been deep diving into door design. As a result, we decided the doors will be the full height of the cube walls, and will be mounted using center pivot hinges to allow them to remain flush with the wall when closed. These hinges will be mounted into the concrete of the slab at the base, and then their tops will be held by a sturdy steel plate that wraps around the top of the wall and down the southern side.

Holy Moly, A Screen!

Additionally, we’ve also been working on the details of our screen. After hanging strings at several test heights, we discovered the final height of the screen should be 14 feet. Then, we decided it will be mounted to the exterior face of the columns using a Unistrut channel.

We considered many different perforation patterns and colors for the metal of the screen. In the end, we decided on a 7.2″ ribbed profile in midnight black perforated with 1/8” diameter holes spaced 3/8” apart on center. This pattern will give us a good balance of transparency, glare protection, and rain protection.

Construction Zone

Two weeks ago, our team officially began construction. We began by gathering our building materials and setting up our construction zone on the Fabrication Pavilion slab. Then, we removed the white oak from the eastern shear wall, carefully cataloging each piece so they can be put back on the wall in the right order after construction ends. We marked out the placement of our walls on the ground, confirming that our corners were square, and then began constructing the walls.

As of now, the northern and southern walls are in place and braced against the shear wall, and the two end columns of the east and west sides have been attached. Next, we will be making a large header beam from 2″ x 12″ lumber to span the entire length of the east and west sides and make room for doors in the future.

Hope to see you next month for our end-of-summer construction update!

Curb Alert!

Hello again and welcome back to the newest addition of the Rural Studio Bathhouse blog! We are so thrilled to show everyone what we’ve been up to recently! We have a big concrete update, but first—we’ve started stacking our wood walls!

student team poses in outdoor shower
Progress on the outdoor shower!

This is super exciting because this is the major focus of the project, and will be the finish wall material in most of the spaces. Continuing with the construction of the outdoor shower, we have started the stacking here. With the help of the jig table that we built a few months ago, we can align our pieces of cypress wood on one side (the interior of the building) and can clamp them down to the board below, creating a uniform module of five pieces.

We are assembling the modules in the Fabrication Pavilion so we can have a clean working surface. This allows us to stack the modules as they will be set up on site, get everything square and level, and then move the modules in place on site.

We have just a few more layers of modules to assemble and then will begin the process of drilling the holes for the threaded rods in each module.

image of a corner of the stacked outdoor shower
Box-joined corners

As the stacking of the outdoor shower walls was taking place, we also began the process of pouring the concrete curbs around the perimeter of the outdoor shower. We marked the curbs on the slab, assembled framed walls in place on the slab to hold the plywood formwork, and then leveled and attached the plywood to the formwork frames. Next, it was time for the pour!

image of interior curb formwork
Outdoor shower curb formwork

With the assistance of some great helpers, we were able to form a wheelbarrow and bucket brigade, lifting the concrete up into the curbs in the outdoor shower.

After two days, we were able to remove the interior formwork and the vertical formwork walls on the exterior, revealing the hefty slab and curbs!

Once we saw how the pour went for the outdoor shower, we used the same process to build the curb formwork for the toilet and shower pods.

Pouring the outdoor shower first did teach us some things, including how to attach the plywood to the frames and the need to account for gaps at the seam between the formwork and slab due to the leveling process, and generally we learned the overall process of getting the concrete into the curbs.

After caulking all gaps, the formwork was set and it was ready to pour!

image of finished curb formwork on toilet and shower pods
Before the pour

Again with the help of some fantastic helpers, we recently poured the curbs for the toilet and shower pods and are so excited to almost be done with concrete!

image of toilet and shower pod right after concrete pour

As this is being written, the team has been taking off all the interior curb formwork and the exterior vertical walls on the toilet and shower pod, revealing the slab and curbs!

We have another concrete pour coming up in a few days. This next pour will be for the foundation of a gray water filtration system for the outdoor shower run-off and the foundation of the bottle-filling station at the front of the building. We are already busy preparing for that pour with more digging and more rebar! Afterward, the only concrete left will be a topping slab going into each of the existing pods (the laundry and getting ready pods).

The team is very excited about the progress being made and cannot wait to dive back into the assembly of the wood walls for the outdoor shower and the rest of the building!

students take a rest in outdoor shower
Time for a nap!

Thanks for following along with the Bathhouse blog! We look forward to providing another update very soon.

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan

Presenting… Your New Leftovers!

Summer has begun, and we’re getting ready to begin our tenure as official “leftovers” here on the Fabrication Pavilion team.

Pig Roasted

At the end of April, Pig Roast was the main event. Our team had a great time attending alumni lectures, seeing all the projects in progress, attending the Rosie’s Home ribbon cutting (two members of our team worked on the project in third year), and presenting our design to all of our visitors. The night ended with a bang of Samuel Mockbee’s famous “whiffle dust” and a graduation ceremony under the stars, with roasts of graduates and delicious catfish all around.

We graduated!

The next weekend, the team made the trip to Auburn for the university’s graduation ceremony. It was a wonderful day surrounded by friends and family.

What’s the Scope?

After a lot of reflection and unforeseen circumstances, the scope of the Fabrication Pavilion project has changed. From now on, primarily we will be focusing on a prototype weather screen, a presentation and tool storage core, and the replacement of the existing roof.

Weather to Screen

Since we returned from graduation, we have been refining the design of these elements, beginning with the weather screen. We have been testing out different heights visually against the existing columns, and hammering out the details of how this new system will interact with the existing structure. With the redefined scope, we will be constructing a screen on the eastern side of the pavilion to test its effectiveness long-term, and the faculty will be installing the screen at the western side after the roof is replaced.

A Storage Core

Further, the mock-up that we built for Pig Roast was an overall success. It served well as a pinup space for both the Fabrication Pavilion and CLT Core House teams. We have been refining this design to serve as a storage area for woodworking and metalworking tools and cleaning supplies, utility access, and a presentation space.

The concept is for the presentation space to appear as a continuous plane the eastern shear wall. The closet doors will be concealed to maintain this as a clean surface for pinups. The utilities will be concealed in the space between its southern wall, while the tools can be safely locked inside. Finally, this core will provide electrical outlets for building and PowerPoints. We have also been exploring lighting solutions for nighttime presentations.

See you again soon for our next update!

Starting the Summer at the 18×18 House

The 18×18 House team has been BUSY! The end of the spring semester came fast, bringing a big ol’ Pig Roast celebration with it. Dozens of family members, friends, and alumni crowded around the house to see what this project is all about. We had a great time sharing the work, and figured out just how many guests can fit onto two parking spaces…

Post-Roast Tasks: Roofing

After the fun of Pig Roast, the “18s” hit the ground (or the scaffolding?) running to get the roof installed. Without a watertight roof, the team couldn’t install insulation or drywall, so it was the priority. The first step was laying rigid insulation over the roof sheathing, then attaching purlins across the top. These purlins will be what the metal panels are screwed into later.

Then all the corners and edges got metal flashing installed on them. The whole roof was outlined in metal profiles to keep water OUT!

The team laid the metal roof panels across the length of the house, attaching them one by one. The back side of the roof was the easy part, but then it was time for the dormer…

Before installing the metal on the front, the team had to install the roof and the siding panels on the dormer. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a way to reach the dormer walls later. Meagan and Jake did some tricky flashing work from the scaffolding to install everything over the purlins and insulation. And then, a finished dormer emerged!

The rest of the panels went on smoothly after that. And isn’t it pretty? After it was finally done, Meagan took a break.

Insulation Nation

But no time to stop! As soon as the roof was finished, it was time to insulate. The 18s stuffed the house full of hemp wool and mineral wool batts. And then some more mineral wool. And then some more… Let’s just say there was plenty to do. Meagan had to take another break.

Closing in the Walls

The last step before drywall can be installed was to hang cement board in the bathroom. Cement board is a water-resistant substitute for drywall in showers and other wet areas of a house. The team will be tiling the walls of the shower later on, and this will provide a sturdy base for it. Julie and Meagan measured each panel, scored them with a utility knife, and broke them along the scored edges. Then Meagan took a break, again.

And drywall was delivered to the house this month! We watched as the sheets were lifted into the house through upstairs windows. It all fit inside just fine, and the house is once again crowded with materials. All that’s left now is to hang it up!

We aren’t the only ones eager to see what will come next at the 18×18 House. Watch out to see what happens as summer goes on!

Kitten in doorway

Here Comes the Leftovers

Students walk across the street

Since the team’s last blog post, a lot has happened. All of April was spent preparing for Pig Roast and the Executive Reviews that followed. The team focused on refining our thesis to fit our goals. We tried to bring the level of detail of the whole house up to as high a standard as possible. There always seems to be another layer of detail to dive into as we learn more about the project.

One to one detail drawing of whole house section.

These big upcoming reviews naturally meant that we needed to spend more time on how the house feels, inside and out. We are having a good time zooming out of detail land and drawing through how the elevations may look and what kind of interior finishes we want. We have some general criteria for making these decisions, but we are approaching a time when seeing how these things look in real life is becoming ever more important.

We also finally have a site! Due to the nature of our project being non-site-specific, it made sense to spend a certain amount of time designing the house without the bias of knowing where our version would go. We are excited to dive deeper into the site, analyzing every inch. Our site is fairly flat undeveloped land, surrounded by trees. Also, it is located right off the road in downtown Newbern. With the downtown projects so close by, we have a high bar to live up to!

Model of house photoshopped onto site photo

We still have to explore through drawings, models, and research before we can try building. Even so, a mock-up is on the horizon. While the finishes are important, the most critical parts of the building process are what need to be tested with this mock-up. The processes of building, moving, installing, and protecting these cores throughout that duration is the real focus of our thesis, along with how all of that process will impact the house.

Pig Roast!

Enough about the preparations. We had a great Pig Roast Weekend! Both 5th-year teams worked hard, and we all felt our presentations went well. It was a beautiful day, and the wind blew our drawings away only once—nice! We tried to have some fun and act out our building process. A little improv went a long way. In the end, it was great to celebrate with friends and family, and the event at Chantilly was unforgettable.

Did someone say leftovers?!

After all that fun, we had to go to Auburn for the much less fun but equally (in some ways) important Graduation. So that’s it. We are adults now who have all the answers to everything. There is nothing we are unprepared for in the real world because now we have a degree. All jokes aside, it has been a pleasure to spend our final school year at Rural Studio. We are so thankful for our time at Auburn and beyond excited to start our time as leftovers to continue the hard work.

Students pose together at graduation