Author: Laurel Holloway

Dirty Work

The Patriece’s Home team is getting dirty in this Alabama heat. Quite literally! After ten months of research and design the team is ecstatic to begin learning through building. 

But first some final checks! A meeting with Joe Burns help the team perfect their column and bearing wall details. He also helped the students design the edits for their attic truss to create more upstairs storage.

The team did not break ground on their site, instead they brought about 84 square yards of engineered dirt to make a leveled spot for their slab on grade foundation. The turndowns for the slab were also dug the same day as the dirt delivery and re-grading by Tyler from T & C Excavating. The site work was off with a bang thanks to Tyler! All that new dirt was then covered with hay and the team spread grass seed to ensure their site progress didn’t erode away. 

The team then began the sequential process toward pouring their slab! But first what needs to go in the slab. The students rapidly learned how plumbing works and designed their utilities to penetrate through the slab into the home’s interior. Eventually the team made trenches for the pipes and electrical conduit when they figured out that the trencher runs backwards instead of trying to drag it forwards. The PVC pipe and fittings were then placed and leveled to unsure they protrude from the ground in the correct spot, then glued together, and finally buried underneath the foundation. 

They immediately began building the formwork for the concrete, leveling and securing it with metal stakes and kickers. They then packed in dirt behind the formwork, or backfilled it, to ensure concrete doesn’t spill out of the forms from the underside of the wood and sprayed the ground for termite protection. 

When the forms were almost completed the team used Rural Studio’s beloved Bobcat to bring in gravel, spread it with shovels, then used the trusty site level create a level bed for the concrete. 

The team tucked the gravel bed in with a sheet of thick plastic, the foundation’s vapor barrier and secured the plastic to the underside of the formwork’s boards. Now for metal reinforcement! Rebar was cut, staked, bent, and tied together along the turndowns of the slab. A final layer of metal mesh was pieced together and sat across the slab interior. 

However, the actual final layer was the epic three layer tarp the team draped over the whole foundation to protect it from filling up with Hale County’s summer rains before their concrete pour date. 

The anticipated day arrived! Patriece’s Home team worked with our concrete contractor Clyde Fields to do their foundation and porch pours in one day. Because it was the hottest day of the summer about hours after the slab was floated the concrete was set enough for students pulled off the formwork around the porches and screw in expansion joints. The team then poured their porch slabs, allowed then to set, and sprayed them off to expose the pea gravel aggregate!

Their one and only concrete pour day was a huge success and the team is now ready to be out of the ground and go vertical! Check back to see Patriece’s Home start to take shape.

the finished concrete have sprinkler that sits on top of them and keeps the surfaces wet

Summer Shenanigans

The Patriece’s Home team, affectionately known around the Studio as the “Stairs Team,” just hasn’t gotten enough of Hale County! Now college grads and no longer students, Adam, Laurel, Daniel and Lauren picked right back up and finished their details mock-up as “leftovers.” The team is using their mock-up to test metal shade devices for windows and the articulation of their wood-clad porches.

After hunting through differing foundation types for their home, the team talked to Tyler from C & T Excavating Inc. and is now moving forward with a plan to sculpt the site with engineered fill for their slab-on-grade foundation.

Patriece’s Home has been focusing on the landscape opportunities in their home’s design. They are not only using natural, space-making tools to ground the house on the site, but to shape and protect areas of outdoor activity, such as play, sitting, parking, and driving. The team Zoomed with Emily Knox, a landscape architecture professor from Auburn University, to discuss their design for siting home, how the landscape design can extend across the whole site, and both existing and potential “materials” (trees, shrubs, grasses) for the site.

Thankfully, the team had their mock-up and details ready to be reviewed because our friend and consultant Dan Wheeler (from Wheeler Kearns Architects in Chicago, IL) showed up again! Dan had an intense design discussion with the team about the wood cladding on the interior and exterior of the home. He left the group with lots of tips and a positive direction toward establishing a character for the wood details. Let’s see what the team decides!

And because the team is itching (literally, the mosquitoes are waking up) to start work on site, they completed their batter boards for their excavation date set in two weeks! They will be in the business of purchasing, perfecting, and tying loose ends as they eagerly await this date. So wait for the next blog post when the team will be playing in the dirt!

Until then, here is a gallery of some Hale County summer shenanigans!

Pomp and Staircumstance

Now that the Patriece’s Home team has a chance to catch their breath, let us tell you about the exciting last few weeks! Pigs have been roasted, mock-ups have gone up, executives have reviewed, so get ready, because we’ve got a full story!

A sketched perspective sits behind a tree on Patriece's site

Site Design Time! The students began investigating details of the site, including the existing trailer, driveway, and a beautiful, healthy Water Oak tree. The team met with David Hill (professor and graduate chair of Auburn University School of Landscape Architecture) to get some advice on how to draw and diagram zones of different uses on the site, such as play areas and parking. He advised the group to use simple but powerful landscaping tools, like subtle berms and trees that will last and grow over the home’s long lifetime.

The team did a charrette to learn how programmatic zones and natural elements could inform where the house sits, instead of the other way around!

The team also began making mock-ups of many of their home’s unique details!

At the SAME time, the student team was preparing for the Studio’s annual Pig Roast weekend. The students mocked-up their most recent landscape plan on the site and created a scrolled slideshow to present their design of an adaptable two story home to the Studio’s families, friends, and alumni.

And at the same time (are you sensing a theme here?), the Patriece’s Home team prepared for the Executive Review 2.0! The guest reviewers suggested the team use an elevated slab to mitigate their site’s slope, order materials and windows, and get in the ground as soon as possible. YAY!

After Pig Roast and the Executive Reviews, the team rushed over to Auburn to graduate! They’ve worked hard on their research the last two semesters, but when they come back to Hale County next week, as leftovers, the real design-build work begins!

four students stand in the auburn football field, smiling in graduation caps and gowns

This House is Lit

Howdy from the Patriece’s Home team! The trees are turning green here in Hale County and the 5th-year projects are emerging from Winter with pent up energy and an excitement to build!

Since their last blog post, the team completed a soil test at their site and starting identifying the home’s location on the site. They’ve also been busy developing a landscaping strategy, pushing forward with a zero eaves strategy, and designing warm, wood-clad porches.

Rural Studio students have a myriad of consultants and reviewers checking over the designs and advising the projects. Recently, the Patriece’s Home team had a visit from Pete Landon and Cameron Acheson of Landon Bone Baker Architects in Chicago, IL. The students received feedback on how they could consider detailing the column and headers of their wood-clad porch.

Next, the team met Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture in Chicago, IL, for a successful code review of the home, The team then proposed the home’s lighting strategy to lighting designer Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi, from Mexico City, Mexico. He advised the team that the light desired in a home at night is not the same character of light desired during the day.

The students decided to take a trip to the 20K Model Homes at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to review the amount of daylight the windows provide and test what ideal nighttime lighting would be. For Patriece’s Home, the team is designing wall-mounted lighting to cast general light into a dark room and layered task lighting to illuminate highly used surfaces and spaces.  

Patriece’s Home most recently met with Rural Studio’s structural engineer, Joe Farruggia from Chicago, IL, for advice on when it is best and most economical to use laminated veneer lumber (LVLs) instead of dimensional lumber in the headers of the home. The team is also getting extremely detailed in the design of the cabinet and electrical plans, imagining how to design spaces for the hundred-year lifespan of the home.

The Patriece’s Home team is sprinting toward Pig Roast, Executive Review 2.0, and graduation, all in the next three and a half weeks! The students will begin buying materials, moving dirt on site, and constructing a full-scale mock-up of the home’s details. Stay tuned! Thanks for checking in on the project!

Don’t Be Stair-tled By A Review

Hey, Hi, Hello, and welcome back to the Patriece’s Home blog! Since the last blog post, the team has been busy preparing drawings for the 5th-years Executive Review (informally know as “stress test”) with Justin Miller, Associate Professor and new Head of Auburn’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, and Rusty Smith, Associate Director of Rural Studio. The annual stress test examines each project’s potential and feasibility to continue into the summer.

In preparation, the latest designs were drawn with a greater degree of detail. (No more pochéd walls, folks!) And with the site now surveyed, the team began studying the position of the house in the surrounding landscape, focusing on forming comfortable, shaded exterior rooms.

The reviewers challenged the team to examine and test the design’s passive heating and cooling systems. The team was also asked to address potential foundation challenges; with a eaveless house design, water may collect at the base of the wall and undermine the strength of the building’s ground connection.

After a unanimous thumbs-up from their reviewers, Patriece’s Home team has moved forward drawing plumbing, electrical, and lighting plans. They hope to soon order their manufactured attic trusses. The 6’ space the doubled-up trusses straddling the stairs created has facilitated a double-height celebratory space. To highlight and delight in the space, the team has also decided to clad it with a hardier, more durable wood material. 

The team ended the intense week of preparation and reviews with a model-stand building workshop with a group of visiting 1st-year Auburn architecture students. Everyone enjoyed getting out of Red Barn, working with fellow architecture students, and reminiscing about the old days at Dudley Hall.

Andrew Freear gives a lecture to the first years under the Great Hall at the Morrissette campus.

The team still has lots more to do! They are now drawing their most difficult details and combining them into a plan for a 1:1 mock up. They will also begin soil testing and prepare the site to build the home’s foundation! Onward and upward! Check back in a couple weeks to see how far the team gets on their 1:1 mock-up!