ruralstudio

A Responsible Return to Rural Studio

3rd years sit masked in the fabrication pavilion before eating lunch

The 3rd-year students are back in Newbern! Find out what they’re planning this semester in their first blog post here!

Out of Site

This week 3rd-years were introduced to two of their other courses taken at Rural Studio: Shop with Stephen Long and History with Dick Hudgens. While traditionally the Shop class focuses on a long-term project centered on the study and construction of a famous chair, this year students will be focusing on three smaller projects that can all be done during shop time. This will allow students to study wood construction more broadly as well as design some of the projects they are working on.

Dick Hudgens introduced his course with a bang as students walked around downtown Newbern making sketches of adjacent buildings and starting to learn some on-site drawing techniques. Similar to Long’s course adjustments, Hudgens has also adjusted the course syllabus to allow for more social distancing and safe meetings. As a result, all students drive their own cars to different historical sites and focus has been shifted from watercolor to more hand-drawing techniques.

20K Ophelia’s Home

Despite a rainy start to the semester, 3rd-years were able to get back onto 20K Ophelia’s Home project site mid-week on the first working week of the semester. Due to COVID-19 regulations in Spring 2020, progress on-site was sadly halted. However, these returning students and faculty have been eager to continue to work on this Rural Studio project. During the first few days on-site, 3rd-years were able to clean up the site and sort through materials in order to catalog how much material had been lost to weathering. 

With a new clean site, 3rd-years began prepping for the next week’s of work by building an on-site pin-up board as well as covering any exposed materials in preparation for another weekend of rain. Neither the rain nor the COVID-19 guidelines can dampen the spirits of the eager 3rd-years as they start the semester full of excitement and anticipation.

Students and instructors pose on site after a long day of work

Fabrication Pavilion

During what students and faculty loving refer to as “neck-down week,” a group of 3rd-years spent the week cleaning the fabrication pavilion and the yard in front of Morrisette House. While cleaning might not seem like the most glamorous task, it was a necessary task. The satisfaction that came with seeing a clean, beautiful pavilion was well worth the work. With an organized campus, the students are ready to start building.

From One Home to Another

Due to Covid-19 pandemic the 3rd-years shifted their project from building 20K Ophelia’s Home to an online exploration of 20K Turner’s Home. Before the 3rd-years left Rural Studio to head back home, they were able to finish framing and sheathing all of Ophelia’s Home walls.

After a triumphal day of putting all the walls up, the 3rd-years headed off to Spring Break! Unfortunately, once the 3rd-years found out the were unable to come back to Rural Studio, the wall had to be taken down and covered by a tarp for protection until the site is reopened.

The 3rd-years began their experimentation with how 20K Turner’s Home could be modified and were challenged to make changes that included Turner’s Home in the product line. The program included the ability to add 300 to 400 square feet to the original home, change the form, reorganize internal space in order to accomplish, and add the quarter bedroom concept from Ophelia’s Home. The 3rd-years started off by reading the book designed by the original Turner’s student team and began evaluating the plan to make changes. Soon after, they adapted sections, elevations, wall sections, and floor framing to their designs. Once doing these, a series of perspectives and diagrams were created to explain the new design. Everything was compiled into a final presentation and reviewed with a number of the Rural Studio faculty.

Being fortunate enough to spend the time at Rural Studio that we did, all 12 of us were certainly heartbroken to leave so early. With high hopes of getting our long list of tasks done after spring break, it was sad to hang up our boots and open up our laptops. This is not to disregard the fact that we, along with everyone in Newbern that we know of, are all healthy and safe. It can be easy to overlook in this time where we sit inside and are told to wait, having to see each other now only as a thumbnail. We were lucky enough to make it halfway through the semester and reaching the point of putting up her walls, and we have learned so much along the way.

We hope that their work is useful for the future of Rural Studio and will be constructed for Ophelia to enjoy.

Wow look at these fine folks of 3rd-years! Sad to see them go, and sooner than expected, but now their train rides on to a new path. Hope to see some faces back in Hale County for their 5th year. Always remember folks, be serious, but be silly!

3rd-Year’s Final Watercolors

Check out 3rd-year history class’s beautiful elevations and details of Gaineswood in Demopolis, Alabama, the Pollen Mansion in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Perry County Court House in Marion, Alabama. These buildings were meticulously hand-drafted and water-colored all semester long.

A Bittersweet End to the Inaugural Cabinet Class

plan perspective of Ophelia's Home focusing on millwork
plan perspective of the millwork in 20K Ophelia’s Home

The spring semester has come to the end, and what a wild four months it has been! At first, the Cabinet Class endeavored on a new adventure into the land of CNC routing by setting out to design and fabricate the millwork for 20K Ophelia’s Home.  Typically, the 20K Home is outfitted with off-the-shelf cabinetry units for kitchen and bathroom storage from the big box stores, i.e. Lowe’s or IKEA. The quality of the cabinets purchases is usually reflected in what the Studio can afford. To improve durability of these particle board cabinets, we decided to create cabinet designs that would be both more affordable and sturdy. 

Despite all of the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been an exciting semester filled with discovery and empowerment for the Studio as well as the students.  The first half of the semester focued on learning about the CNC router and its accompanied technology. By March, initial design for all of Ophelia’s Home storage was nearly complete, and the students built a physical mockup of their cabinets.

Remote learning, however, began at the end of Spring Break. Yet, the students continued to move toward a final design of storage spaces, which included the kitchen, bathroom, utility room, and bedroom closet storage.  This week, the teams presented a presentation of their final project: a book that explains the context of their cabinetry designs and a stylized guide of instructions on how to build the cabinets.  The class hopes this this books will be used to continue the exploration of millwork when studies resume in Newbern.  Hopefully, the adventure will continue very soon!

Thanks to all those who helped make this class a success, including Dylan & Keith from Wood Studio and John Byler from Dudley Hall’s shop in Auburn.  This semester’s great work would not have been possible without your help!  Most of all, thank you to the Rural Studio 3rd-year students who persevered through tough circumstances.  Great job to all!  

3rd-Year Students Sketch the J.W. Otts House

This week, Dick Hudgens sent his students on a quick trip back to Hale County (digitally, of course). The 3rd-years drafted and watercolored the J.W. Otts House, located in Greensboro, Alabama. These drawings keep getting better each week! Here are some beautiful examples of their hard work: