#ruralstudio

The One where the Short Screens Went Up

students pouring concrete

The Horseshoe Courtyard project team completed their sixth concrete pour on site! The team was incredibly excited to finally pour the footing for the eight-foot screens on the north end. Thanks to Andrew and Mason, the team got the job done in one morning’s time.

Shortly after the concrete cured, the team and helpers started prepping for the steel footings that connect the screens to the concrete. First, they pulled the batter board lines to find and mark the middle point for the footing. This ensures that the screens line up with the project’s five-foot grid. Second, holes were drilled in the concrete. These holes were filled with threaded rods and epoxied in place. Third, wooden templates were places on the threaded rods to hold them in place and keep track of the curing time. After the rods were set and the concrete fully cured the templates were removed. Lastly, the metal footings were placed on the washers and nuts and the plates were leveled.

Two more trees in the ground

Before the last screens could be bolted in place, the last two trees in the “calm space” were brought in. However, they could not be fully planted until after the screens were in place. Once the trees were in their new home, they were shored up to keep them steady until the trench was filled.

North end taking shape

view from beacon alley

In a single afternoon, with the help of 3rd-year students, and Dr.Dorsey, all eight short screens were raised and bolted into place! The following day, they were all aligned and leveled to each other and to the walkway railings. This was possible due to the oversized holes in the footing plate and that it had not been grouted yet. Grout coming up, next week!

Roadtrip for the vines

planting pattern
CJ= Carolina Jessamine, SJ= Star Jasmine. The dotted green line indicates the planting pattern that was chosen. The Jessamine tends to shoot up quicker, while the Jasmine, grows slower but more full.

Another exciting day last week was when the team took a trip to a nursery in Montogmery to pick up the vines! They picked up 60 potted plants. 25 three-gallon Confederate/ Star Jasmine, 15 one-gallon Star/Confederate Jasmine, and 20 three-gallon Carolina Jessamine. The design incorporates the two different vines because of their different growth patterns and blooms. Since the ratio of the two types of vines is 2:1, there needed to be some type of planting pattern that also took into account the plant size variation. Once all the vines were unloaded on-site, the team created a system that placed the taller vines in desired locations and spread out the younger plants. The vines were planted three per screen, to increase the density of the vegetation.

Divide and Conquer

Woodshop Class

This week in woodshop class, the 3rd-years were able to finish their first project; Cutting Boards! Even with a less than normal Rural STudio experience, the students utilized this project as an introduction to woodworking. They gained confidence in using woodworking tools. The next two projects will be at an accelerated pace, but now the 3rd-years now have the skills to woodwork with more independence. Here is a look at each 3rd-year’s individual cutting board!

Matt Repsher
Ethan Mejia
DeLiang Chen
Ben Willcockson
Christina Devries
Ann Sheldon
Carla Slabber

History Class

In history, students were able to visit Thornhill, a 19th century home atop a hill with a spectacular view. What makes Thornhill unique from previous tours is the people that inhabit it. The older architectural styles of the house have been maintained by its owners while new additions have been made to complement the existing structures. All of the modern spaces are designed to respect the older ones. It was very interesting for the students to see a successful and modern addition to an older home.

Ophelia’s Home

As the semester continues, 3rd-years have split into three different groups: Framing, Enclosures, and Roof. The Framing team is constructing the final wall for the home and planning Ophelia’s porch construction. The Roof team is planning the truss installation process, the purchasing of materials, and what additional construction drawings are needed. The Enclosures team finished cutting and installing the sheathing on the walls and aided the Framing Team in the installation of the final wall. 

You’ve Gotta Raise the Walls Before You Can Raise the Roof

Field trip with Dr. Dick Hudgens

History, Shop, and Horseshoe Courtyard

Third years continued to work diligently in the shop this week as different cutting boards slowly started to come together. They were also able to visit a mid-1800’s house in Demopolis with Dr. Hudgens. At Horseshoe farms this week, 3rd-years were able to put up the frames for the other half of the courtyard after the 5th-years worked to install the footings.

Working in the Rural Studio Wood Shop on cutting boards

Ophelia’s Home

This week students worked to put the existing walls up at Ophelia’s Home. Rural Studio also had six helical anchors installed to further stabilize the foundation and 3rd-years were able to witness the process. While wall installation went slowly in order to assure everything remained plumb, students and Mrs. Ophelia were excited to see the home return prior condition. Everyone is looking forward to further progress on the home in the weeks to come!

Tamping Down and Lighting Up

View of trees and slate from walkway
Slate gravel is the finished surface under the tree canopy and around the brick pad on the South end of the site.

This week, the team unloaded 22 super-sacks of slate, from Rockmart Georgia! Half of these sacks consisted of “Trail Mix” which makes up the first two-inch layer of material. And the “Mini chips” that will be the top two inches are the finish grade. While both generally look the same, the Trail Mix has fines, which function as mulch, while the Mini chips are less powdery, compact better, and decreases the chances of weeds going through the surface. The team, and helpers, set to spreading and hand tamping the first layer of slate around the recently planted trees. While students spread the slate, they placed markers between the trees to ensure that the site continued to slope towards the north end of the site.

Lighting talks and studies

One of the important aspects of the courtyard is its flexibility in usage; both throughout the seasons, as well as at different times of the day. Keeping that in mind elevates the importance of lights in the courtyard. Luckily, the Studio had a visit from Thomas Paterson, a lighting consultant from Mexico City’s LuxPopuli! Thomas showed a couple of projects he and his office has worked on, how they approach lighting design, and some strategies the team could test out in the courtyard. After the lecture, everyone headed to the courtyard site to see those strategies applied to the existing lighting mock-up.

Trench for north screens

As the team moved further north on the site, they had to consider the implications of having a trench separating the spaces. Consequently, before the team planted the trees, they moved the sand for the brick pad by the tall screens. And before the Bobcat could no longer be driven in, bricks and slate were relocated beneath the trees. Shortly after that, Tyler returned to the site one last time, with his Mini-excavator. In one morning’s time Tyler and Ashton, his assistant, dug up the trench and hauled off the excavated dirt from the site. Simultaneously, students salvaged close to a hundred bricks, from the pile of dirt coming out the trench. Many were previously part of foundation walls for the buildings that used to be on the site.

After Tyler left, students quickly prepared the reinforcement of the concrete. While tying the rebar, the team made sure that it matched with the placement of the metal footings for the screens. They did so, like always, by pulling batter board lines across space.

Winding Down to Wind Up

History and Shop

As the extended neck down schedule begins to subside, 3rd-years are starting to look at a more consistent work schedule. In history, Dr. Hudgens took students to the Gaineswood House which started out as a log cabin and after undergoing several additions by General Whitfield slowly turned into a Jeffersonian Revival style house. 

In Shop, students continued working on their cutting boards. Since access to the shop is being limited outside of class time, every minute counts!

Ophelia’s Home

With the daily sitework of neckdowns ending, the 3rd-years are transitioning into building Ophelia’s Home. They are preparing presentations about Ophelia’s Home, it’s currrent state, and how they plan to pick up where the 2020 Spring semester 3rd-years left off. They have been visiting Ophelia’s Home to map out their return to the site.