ruralstudio

I’m Floored

It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from the Patriece’s Home team.

We last left them in the middle of their window installation, and since then they’ve finished! The fenestrations definitely gave the home its facial features and the wonderful Pella-donated windows filled the interior with beautiful light. 

The team also installed the Pella-donated exterior doors. The doors have integrated windows to give the home even more exterior daylight and now the team can lock up the house when they leave for the day. 

With such lovely natural light, the team met with designer Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi again to finalize a complementary artificial lighting plan. The group selected fixtures and bulbs that won’t attempt to replicate daytime light but give a different type of warm cast and task light for differing interior program.

With the stairs complete, it was easier for the team to bring tongue-and-groove plywood to lay the subfloor within their attic truss. 

Once the subfloor was complete, the team could then finally finish their interior framing! The upstairs rooms have taken shape, and the team got very excited about the possibilities for flexible room at the top of the stairs. 

They also put half-inch plywood along the interior walls of the stairs to later attach a durable layer of tongue-and-groove cypress boards. With a surface to cast light on, the team got even more excited about the exterior light from the windows at the top and bottom of the stairs. 

With all the walls established, the group began looking toward wall fillers in preparation to enclose them with drywall (and with endless miscellaneous blocking). 

We enjoyed installing the downstairs shower and upstairs bathtub base. From there, the team began fitting together the PVC drain, water, and vent system to the stub outs connections from the main drain in the concrete slab. 

With the chunky PCV filling the walls, the group began routing flexible PEX tubing through the house. These water supply lines connect to their various fixture stub outs in the bathrooms and kitchen. 

Then it was time for electrical boxes and outlets to find their place in the wall. With the supervision of some expert help, the team installed the two electrical units. These separate outlet boxes offer the opportunity for power to be individually accessed and maintained. With all the wire strung, the house is ready to be plugged into the meter on the temporary power pole outside. Just like decorating for the holidays. We might as well: the house is already green. 

Speaking of holidays, Soup Roast snuck up on the team so fast! The four tidied up for the visitors and started the special day’s project tour with a quick presentation of their home. The crowd got to wander around the home. It’s safe to say it was well received! 

The team has a lot to be thankful for in their second holiday season at Rural Studio. The opportunity to build, the wonderful community that supports them, delicious food, and a home now ready for insulation and drywall! Check back here in the new year for more big updates on Patriece’s Home!

This Little Light of Mine

April has arrived which means the heat is beginning to creep into sunny afternoons, pollen has layered every outdoor surface, and the Moundville Pavilion Team is making decisions. In recent weeks, we have met with visiting architects and lighting consultants and have begun to get into the nuts and bolts (literally and figuratively) of how to detail the elements of the pavilion

Open for Spring

After Executive Review, we started to find a middle ground between the form and function of the column design. We had Pete Landon and Cameron Acheson from Landon Bone Baker Architects out of Chicago, IL, out for a review of the team’s work.

detailed drawing of ceiling panels
We sketched the prefabricated ceiling panels.
The column tapers out to 12″ and then meets a steel skirt that emerges from the ground.
The team discussed the tapered column mockup with Pete and Cameron.

They helped the team focus on the longevity of the roof surface; since the pavilion will reside in a heavily forested area, a durable surface is critical to withstand decomposing pine straw and potentially fallen branches.

This rendering shows the family of tapered wood columns and the steel skirts below.

Turning on the Lights

Since the pavilion is located in the campground and the space will likely be inhabited after dusk, the team has been researching lighting strategies in order to provide safety and usability at night.

The team sketched how the steel skirt could be used for lighting and electrical.

In addition to modeling some hidden fixtures options, the team met with lighting designer, Thomas Paterson (Lux Populi in Mexico City, Mexico) who explained possible lighting methods that can relate to the concept. Most recently, we tested lighting schemes on-site.

testing lighting under pavilion
The team tested lighting under the ceiling mock-up using lamps.

After finalizing more details within the roof and ceiling structure, it was time to start working on a large-scale framing model. Next up, is the annual Pig Roast Celebration!

Hello, Goodbye

Rural Studio Farm is a small-scale, organic vegetable production farm run by our farm manager, Eric Ball, who relies on the labor of each and every Rural Studio student who passes through the program. Each year, two new 5th-year students are hired part time to work alongside Eric in co-managing the farm’s operations.

Eric poses with two student workers

With the beginning of a new academic year, it means we must say goodbye to our two former farm workers: Cory Subasic and Madeline Ray. Madeline and Cory were both diligent and hard-working students who, together, managed the operations of the farm and acted as leaders to the other students for several months while our farm manager, Eric, was away on parental leave. Cory, who worked on the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project has since taken a fellowship with Brian MacKay-Lyons in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And Madeline is devoting all her time to finishing up work on the Myers’ Home. Their contributions to the farm were essential, and their presence will be greatly missed.

Two new student workers pose in front of the greenhouse
Jackie (L) and Laurel (R)

We are also excited to have two Project Horseshoe Farm fellows working with us on the farm as part of their community engagement. This will be Maggie Rosenthal’s second year working at Rural Studio Farm, and we welcome Diana Omenge to Hale County!

Shiny House, “Neckdowns,” Things Exterior

Welcome back to the journal, dear reader. In my last entry, I reported that Hale County had entered a state of oppressive heat and humidity. Several weeks have passed since that report, and climatically, nothing has changed. It’s 95oF in Hale County today, but they say it feels like 106oF. Let me ask you, dear reader, that if it feels like 106, then is it not 106? Alas, my mind wanders. Such a question is a trifle in comparison to my duty to you, that is to recount in an earnest fashion, the activity of Reverend Walker’s Home team.

While the environment is still and sweltering, my crew is the opposite. Intrepid and strong, and with the help of a protective roof, they carry on. I will admit, this motley crew are always raising the bar. I previously issued orders for them to complete the exterior of the home in a timely manner, and that they have. It was not a trivial amount of work. The tasks were varied and many. But yet again, the team has risen to the occasion. Doors and windows were built and installed concurrently with the application of siding and flashing. With additional help from new students during “Neckdown” Week, roll roofing was installed, the site was graded, beneath-ground drains installed, and a small patio built.

Doors & Windows

As Addie and Becca finished windows in the woodshop, Paul and George would install them on site. The whole unit is fabricated in the shop, making installation quick and easy. Pre-hung doors were installed and custom trim applied to the face of them to match the window details. As the doors and windows went in the house, siding and flashing were installed as allowed by what openings were done.

Siding

Reverend Walker’s Home is clad in the same galvalume r-panel that makes up the roof. Large, cut to length sheets make a fairly easy process. The only tricky parts are at those window locations where c-shapes need to be made out of the sheet metal. Bottom flashing was installed prior to siding.

leveling bottom flashing
installing r-panel
sided wall

Flashing

After the siding was put up, metal flashing and trim were next. The corner trim was installed first and then the top of wall flashing. The typical metal building corner trim has always been a team favorite. It is incredibly easy to install and is so big that it somehow disappears, or appears as just another ridge in the r-panel. Thank you fat corner trim. Top flashing was trickier with the different angles and cuts needed to make crisp connections between pieces. But with some practice cuts and good measurements it came together without much trouble.

cutting flashing with an angle grinder
flashed, trimmed, capped

Roofing

As flashing wrapped up, “Neckdown” Week began. Each day we were assisted by one or two new arrivals, bright-eyed and incredibly clean. We were also able to welcome Becca and Addie back from their shop sabbatical/site hiatus! Reunited and reinforced, we set about our work. Becca and Addie led the charge on the application of asphalt roll roofing to the top of the volumes. The roofing provides the final layer of water protection to the two volumes underneath the roof.

roofing layed out

Fireplace Patio

As the roll roofing went on, Paul and George were joined by several Landscape Architecture students, who offered advice and assistance in making a small gravel patio. After a quick design discussion, the area was graded, and a first length of French drain was installed so that we could move forward with edging and infilling with gravel. The rest of the drain would be installed later.

relax

Grading

When the roofing and patio jobs were complete, it was all hands on deck for site grading. With the help of the skid-steer, earth was moved from the excavated pile to the slab edge and graded away. Additionally, several large ruts were filled in and the site was smoothed out. The septic mound was extended with any remaining earth in the pile.

So, post grading, what we are left with is a mostly finished exterior of a house. There are always a few odds and ends to take care of, but there is no doubt that “Neckdown” Week was a huge success on site.

Certainly, much has happened in a short period of time. I tell you once more, dear reader, that this bunch is special. Of course this is not to say that it could have been done without my strong leadership. It takes a steady paw to guide a vessel this size through choppy waters. On the horizon I see finish carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and other odds and ends. I will continue to record the progress of Reverend Walker’s Home for posterity, the world deserves to know the intricacies of our grand adventure. Alas, dear reader, the sun draws closer to the horizon and I have grown weary. I must put aside my journal in favor of a nap. I think I will chose a nice spot in between two elephant ears Paul has acquired for this occasion.

Yours sincerely,

Taterhead

Fall 2021 Neckdown Week

three young people stand together smiling wearing hard hats and harneses

This semester, Neckdown Week was as productive as ever, with the sun shining on us all week long. Neckdown is a studio tradition, during which all students and faculty work together to mend, clean up, or push forward our past and current projects. This time around we worked on student projects in Newbern and sent teams all the way out to Perry Lakes Park in Marion, AL.

At Perry Lakes Park, we cleaned up debris from a big storm that hit the park last year. We also worked on the plumbing for the bathrooms, which included a lot of digging. And we mean A LOT. Up on the Perry Lakes Birding Tower, we finally completed our objective of replacing all the rotten boards that we began removing during Neckdown last year! We hope all of you will be able to come visit the beautiful park as soon as it reopens in the very near future.

Back in good ole Newbern, teams of helpers working a several maintenance projects at our headquarters at Morrisette House. A few teams also worked alongside Eric at the Rural Studio Farm constructing raised garden beds. These beds, made from concrete blocks, are very time consuming to build correctly, and our helpers worked hard in the sun to make them look good and function well! We’d also like to give a shoutout and a big thank you to all of the Auburn University Landscape Architecture students and faculty who came out to Hale County to help us nourish Rural Studio’s outdoor spaces. The AULA cohort not only helped out at the Farm and Morrisette property, but they also worked in our courtyards in downtown Newbern and at Lion’s Park in Greensboro. Our plants and ground surfaces would not be as happy as they have been lately without you all. Thank you!

Our recent graduates also took advantage of a few Neckdown helpers this week to make some progress finishing up their projects! With assistance from new 3rd and 5th-year’s capable hands, our three “leftover” teams accomplished a huge amount of work! The Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project team constructed two sets of stairs that lead down into their cooling porch. They also worked on installing battens on the exterior of their Research Pods!

The Myers’ Home team installed tongue-and-groove cypress boards on their interior core walls, and they worked with their helpers to nail their exterior flashing in place. Siding is coming up next for these folks. At Rev. Walker’s Home site, the team completed a massive amount of earth work in order to prep their site for its final grading. This process also included creating an outdoor gravel patio for their client to create a smooth transition from concrete slab to the adjacent ground surface.

Thank you to all the students, staff, and faculty that made all of this work possible this week!