ruralhome

Reverend Walker’s Home

Hi there! Back for more, are you? Well, if you were intrigued enough to return to this humble little blog of ours, we should probably give you the low down on what Rev. Walker’s home is all about. As mentioned in our last post, our project is a continuation of the research started by the 2019-2020 outreach master’s team, who were interested in taking a pole barn structure and applying it to rural housing, as it is an efficient and easy building technique. This, combined with our own observation of trends in rural homeownership, in particular those of expansion, has led us to explore a starter home, completely separated from, but sheltered by a single-source, kit-of-parts pole barn. What is a pole barn? And why would we separate it from the structure of our home? We’re glad you asked!

Typically, pole barns use large, widely-spaced wooden posts buried straight into the ground to carry trusses supporting a large clear-span roof. What can often be found underneath is a slab on grade or merely a dirt floor. These structures can be seen all over Hale County, usually serving as manufacturing buildings, churches, or simply just for storage. Well, that’s where our challenge comes in, dear reader – to make this building type function well as a home.

components of a pole barn

Because this technique minimizes the use of materials, it can cover swaths of space previously unachievable by past 20K homes for the same price. By having the home begin as an enclosure for a single person or couple, we can dedicate the rest of our resources to providing the largest roof and slab possible, sheltering and providing a sturdy base for future expansion. This is ideal as oftentimes additions compromise the original home’s structure as multiple roof and foundation systems are tied together.

Diagram of house connections
points where additions tend to fail

By having the structure of the home completely separated from the pole barn, the owner doesn’t have to learn how to add onto a less conventional post frame home and the overarching roof can remain untouched, maintaining its integrity. The pole barn can then take the brunt of the weather that would typically age a home and can protect new connections if the house grows.

Having two independent structures also preserves the quick and easy nature of the pole barn, allowing all of the components to be purchased off-the-shelf from a manufacturer without having to fuss too much with modifying it to have residential details and tolerances. This is important to us as we want this home to be as accessible to buy and simple to build as possible.

weather cant keep us off site

This ability to put up a roof fast also gives us a dry place under which to work without weather delays or breaks (remember: “healthy body, healthy mind”), as well as covering potential expansions by the owner so there’s no need to rush.

In our scheme, the approximately 500-square-foot home is covered by a 1,900-square-foot, 5-bay pole barn. The difference in size results in a luxury of outdoor space, where at the start it can serve as a large porch – the primary social space in rural communities. The home is broken up into two volumes arranged into a dogtrot scheme – one with all the rooms necessary to make a viable home and the other left blank to be used as the owner sees fit.

Sketch of interior loft space
View of the loft from below

This not only starts to define outdoor rooms, but also implies infilling between the volumes as the first move of expansion. Additionally, the monopitch shape of the home’s roof gives clues towards expansion, hinting that one can march the same roof pitch between the volumes and come off the high side of the home to infill the front. This extra initial height in the home also provides opportunities for a loft space, which can serve as storage or a sleeping space and help with ventilation.

Rendering of Reverend Walker's Home on site
Rendering of the home on its site

If you’ve made it to the end of this long but passionate discourse about our explorations, I commend you. But for now I must leave you, as my four underlings are returning to site with greater frequency to prepare the area for construction, but with an alarming lack of extra scratches. Something must be done about this.

Image of Taterhead the site cat

Until next time – Taterhead the Cat

Howdy from Newbern!

A series of student Polaroids with title "Meet the Third Years"

1 HOWDY

  • Mediocre Superpower: ability to find other people’s keys, but never their own
  • Born in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
  • Their lack of wisdom teeth is no indication of their lack of wisdom
  • Enjoys microwavable Mac n’ Cheese (to the rest of the house’s dismay)
  • On a free day, they enjoy doing chores, jamming to heavy metal, and planning schemes
  • May or may not own all the Lego pieces in the land
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2 BYE

  • Mediocre Superpower: being able to sleep through 50 alarms
  • Lived in Israel for a year as a baby
  • Continues to taunt the house with unfulfilled promises of Oreo Pie
  • Embarrassed of their Hufflepuffness
  • Their right ear is higher than the left one
  • Hates ‘Get-to-Know-You’ questionnaires
  • Believes the greatest cereal of all time is Lucky Charms
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3 GRAVITAS

  • Mediocre Superpower: be able to understand animals (only if they need something)
  • Is a cheesy person
  • Born and Raised in Houston
  • Loves spicy food
  • Only Ravenclaw of the house (smarticle particle)
  • Believes that people who close the bathroom door when they are done and leave everyone to wonder whether it is occupied or not should reevaluate.
  • Thinks the ‘Get-to-Know-You’ questionnaire made by the blog team is perfect (aaaaaaawww)
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4 MILK JAR

  • Mediocre Superpower: ability to know a penny’s life story when touched
  • Always eating popcorn before meals (never finishes their plate smh)
  • Speaks fluent Itali-English
  • Hides food from everyone else in the house and will eat your food if left unattended
  • Cheeseball Shark/ partial merperson
  • Undying love for Oreos and still waiting on the promised Oreo Pie
  • DeLiang’s least favorite actress
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5 RUN?

  • Mediocre Superpower: every time they reach into their pocket, they will find a single, random tree nut
  • The only Gryffindor of the house
  • Has secret ancient knowledge of strawberry juice
  • On a free day, they enjoy messing with Houdini (the famous escape artist not their dog)
  • Wants to learn VEX
  • Was caught off guard by their immense love of Twilight
  • Scared of photos
  • Unnaturally good at handstands
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6 READING OVEN

  • Mediocre Superpower: ability to stop time but only to procrastinate
  • Enjoys eating pie
  • Has visited a Glass Bridge (and it was beautiful)
  • Believes dust is the single worst menace to society
  • Loves road trips
  • Has more drill bits than any one person could ever need
  • Can fit a family of four in their giant tool belt
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7 TUMMPLE

  • Mediocre Superpower: the ability to speak any language but only to talk to people about their dogs
  • Is a very proud Hufflepuff
  • Their pinky toes don’t reach the ground
  • Lost the spelling bee in 3rd grade because ‘vacuum’ has 2 u’s
  • Parmesan cheese addict
  • Visited Hobbiton, New Zealand (where they should be because they are a hobbit)
  • Aims to imprison all Tummples
  • Inventor of Little Monsters TM, Newbern’s critically acclaimed board game

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20K Ann’s Home is complete!

On Saturday, September 21st, we celebrated the beautiful work of our 5th-year students, Ayomi Akinlawon, Jed Grant, Madeline Gibbs, and Yikuan Peng, and our lovely neighbor Ann at the ribbon cutting ceremony of 20K Anna’s Home. Thank you to all of our supporters and community! Without your support, none of this work would be possible!

20K Ann’s Home has a research and design focus of “aging-in-place.” The team took on the challenge of designing a home for the entire life of its occupant, not simply accepting the narrow understanding of “aging-in-place” that considers life following retirement. This meant providing spaces that are flexible and remain suitable as a family expands and contracts during different phases of life.

In addition to providing a living room that can easily transition into a third bedroom if required (when those teenagers need their own space or the favorite niece comes to stay), the design creates a strong connection between the interior and the porch with double doors. Not only does this approach create accessibility for someone in a walker, wheelchair, or even a hospital bed, it also provides space for families to gather and support one another. The house also prepares for this life cycle with details that are both durable and affordable to maintain.

Learn more about the 20K Ann’s Home on our website.