Rosie’s Home

The First Month: 3rd-Year Edition

Rural Studio welcomed eleven new 3rd-year students to campus this Fall. Before we could begin this semester’s work on Rosie’s Home, we partook in Rural Studio’s bi-annual Neckdown Week.

Among several projects around the area, we helped lay the foundation for the C.H.O.I.C.E. House project, provided maintenance on the Newbern Firehouse, helped with upkeep of our own campus and home, and power-washed and weeded the Safe House Black History Museum in Greensboro. Neckdown was the crash course in Rural Studio and Newbern.

Now that us 3rd-years have gotten thrown into the deep end of the goings on at Rural Studio, we can officially start our project: Rosie’s Home.

Welcome to Red Barn!

The 3rd-year class had a busy first few weeks in the Red Barn Studio. We started by getting to know our clients Rosie and Frankie. We created collages after meeting them to explore specific locations of the home.

While we were getting to know the clients, we had another project. We went to dollar stores and second-hand shops to pick up a variety of materials. Then we weaved, layered, and meshed the materials, and the result was funky–even for Rural Studio–and we’ve been known to do some weird stuff.

Pin-up of materials study in Red Barn

This project was a collaboration with the 4th-year Interior Architecture studio that is back on main campus in Auburn. In a Zoom meeting, we shared work from both studios including the materials, as well as our collages. Using all of the information and materials we previously organized, we teamed up (2-3 Rural Studio students and 2-3 main campus Interiors students) to explore how different materials might affect the atmosphere of Rosie’s Home.

Presenting to the Interiors Studio in Auburn from the Red Barn

Most recently, we began a study of all the previous 20K Homes. Looking at all the materials that make up the walls, we began to research their qualities, such as healthfulness, energy efficiency, and cost. We then presented our research and our work from previous weeks to visiting architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture in Chicago.

Our reviewers offered a lot of great feedback on our presentation, graphics, and research and we are excited to continue to progress our design for the interior of Rosie’s Home!

Woodshop Class

Along with our studio course, we take a Woodshop course and a History Seminar here at Rural Studio. Our Woodshop class will focus on creating cabinetry for Rosie’s Home. The first assignment was to study cabinetry, focusing on function, space, and material of typical cabinetry, as well as cabinetry and storage in past Rural Studio projects. The course instructors Steve Long and Judith Seaman began an introduction to the workspace consisting of rules and regulations, and how to use the equipment and tools in the shop. They also gave us a presentation on the history of wood in the state of Alabama and in the local area of Hale County. Finally, we are excited to start our first woodworking project: a cutting board!

History Seminar

The History Seminar is on Monday afternoons with our instructor, Dick Hudgens. We travel around the local area and surrounding counties to study the vernacular architecture in West Alabama with an emphasis on wood constructed Antebellum homes. In the most recent class, we visited Glencairn in Greensboro. It was completed in 1837 and the original owner was John Erwin. During the tour, we learned about almost every detail of the home from the handcrafted cornices to the scrolls on the furniture. In order to study the intricate details of the home, we sketched the interior of the front door and surrounding trim work and the exterior elevation of the building. 

White Antebellum style home front elevation.
Glencairn Exterior

Stay tuned this semester!

Pouring at Rosie’s Home

The Spring semester is complete! During their last few weeks in Newbern, the 3rd-year class completed projects for the Woodshop class, visited the final house for History class, worked on the foundations and walls of Rosie’s Home, and prepared for the Pig Roast presentations. Scroll down to see these final products and more!

Finishing Up the Chairs

Each of the teams spent time on their chair’s assembly and sanding, all complete with finishing oils to make them really shine. In the final review, we discussed what we liked about our chair, what could be improved, and what we learned over the course of the semester.

Forkland, AL

Our final fieldtrip let us to Thornhill mansion in Forkland, Alabama. The amazing views, tasteful modern additions, and lovely adjacent schoolhouse made for a great afternoon with an abundance of learning.

The Foundation of Our Learning

With gravel in place, we began the next step of preparing for the foundation by digging the slab’s turndowns and constructing the formwork. Next, we backfilled the formwork using the dirt from the turndowns and installed the rebar and wire mesh.

During our final week of construction, we poured the foundation of Rosie’s Home! After two concrete trucks, a lot of hand-smoothing, and a day to cure, we were able to stand on the foundation, remove the formwork, and begin the process of framing the walls. Using our detailed framing plans, we constructed and leveled the North, East, and South walls of the home. In the Fall, the upcoming 3rd-year class will finish the Western wall’s framing and construct the exterior envelope before moving on to the interior.

While we waited for the concrete to set, we spent the afternoon building a new house for Rosie’s dog, Bo, whose house was beginning to fail. We were able to carry it over to the backyard for Bo by the end of the day, just in time, since a big storm blew in shortly after.

I love Rural! Pig Roast 2022!

The semester ended with a bang at the annual Pig Roast festivities. We enjoyed two days of touring current projects and celebrating the completion of several projects. The weekend ended with a graduation ceremony for the 5th-year students and celebration of our community partners.

First, we showed off a gallery of our projects for Woodshop, History, and Studio.

Next, we drove over to site. After some kind words from Rosie and Frankie, we presented our progress on Rosie’s Home to our visitors. The benefits of our post-frame construction were clearly shown when a storm hit suddenly. Thankfully, with our pre-constructed roof, we were able to continue the presentation and celebration as planned.

Looking back on our semester here at Rural Studio, we have come so far since January. We will all miss Newbern dearly, but our team is very excited to see the next semester of students develop the project even further. We can’t wait to return to see Rosie and Frankie enjoying their new home.

Check back here in August to get to know the folks working on Phase 3 of Rosie’s Home!

Pipe Dreams

Work has really ramped up in the past couple weeks! Our chairs are nearing completion, we’ve created more watercolor paintings, and the plumbing for Rosie’s Home has been finished and buried! Scroll down to see more of what we’ve been up to!

Entrenched in Our Work

We’ve spent the last few weeks digging trenches on our site. Through driving rain, the roof kept us dry enough to continue working. After marking out the placement of various fixtures, we were able to complete the plumbing for our wastewater drainage system. Then, we performed a flow test to check the slopes of our buried pipes and ensure that the water would drain properly away from the building to the septic system.

Once the pipes for water and electricity were safely buried and the ground was level, we brought in the Bobcat and spread gravel across the footprint of the building to prepare the ground for the incoming foundation. Next, we used shovels and rakes to spread the gravel evenly. We will level and tamp all of it to final elevation this week for the upcoming slab pour. After the initial leveling, we used some of our excess gravel to repair Rosie’s driveway.

Next week, we will be preparing to pour the concrete slab!

That’s History

Our class visited the Jemison Mansion in Tuscaloosa, AL, and the many outbuildings of an 1800s farm in Folsom, AL.

This week, in lieu of a tour, we had a review of all of the sketches and watercolors we have made this semester. This included a watercolor that we recently completed of a house that each student designed. These houses were designed to be as self-sustaining as possible, as well as serving as a beautiful subject for our paintings.

Chair-ish This Moment

All of the teams have been making great progress on their chairs in Woodshop Class. The Zig Zag Chair team has begun assembly. The Alto Stool team has been steam-bending and cutting out their stool tops. Finally, the Folding Chair team has been testing the foldability of their assembly and begun cutting mortise and tenon joints for the feet of their chair.

Tune in for our next blog to see the final results of our chairs and the progress on the slab for Rosie’s Home!

The Stakes are High

Things have really gotten rolling with our 3rd-year class! Scroll down to see what we’ve been working on in woodshop, history, and Rosie’s Home.

Mocking It Up

Our main project in woodshop is to create a chair. However, before we could begin recreating our chair precedents, each team was tasked with crafting a mock-up that tested all of the most difficult aspects of their chair’s construction. We learned so much about joints, jigs, lamination, and even steam-bending!

Our testing phase is coming to a close, but we have learned from both our mistakes and successes and can apply that knowledge to our final chair.

Historical Visits and Tomfoolery

This month, we visited Gaineswood in Demopolis, AL, along with Magnolia Grove and The Oaks (Happel-Stickney Home) in Greensboro, AL. These houses were beautifully constructed and provided opportunities for fun photo ops between sketches.

1st-Year Frenzy

The 2021-2022 Foundation Unit students came to visit Rural Studio! We had a great time showing them around Newbern. On Saturday, we helped them build a variety of model stands for their latest project. The stands turned out wonderfully!

That’s the Plan!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve created many iterations of floor plans for Rosie’s Home, gradually improving the design. We also went on site to examine the post-frame construction and discuss the building’s corner details.

This week, we finalized our floor plan and slab details and decided on a new elevation scheme. We taped out our floorplan at full scale on the floor of our studio. Next, we staked out the footprint of the building and began setting up our batter boards!

After marking out the floor plan under the roof structure, we brought our clients Rosie and Frank out to show them our progress and present our projections for what the home will look like in the future. It was a great meeting, and we can’t wait to see what they think of the house when it is complete!

Check back in soon to see our progress on the foundation and framing plans!

Post-Frame Lovers

This Spring has been busy for our 3rd-year team! Scroll down to see what we’ve been up to with Rosie’s Home, Woodshop, and History!

Studio

First off, our team has begun our study of Rosie’s current home with interviews and a series of empathetic drawings that we will continue to work on throughout the semester. Each of us has chosen an element of the home to study that will help us to make informed choices about the design of the new home.

We are using our findings from these drawings to begin the process of adapting the floor plan of 20K Turner’s Home to Rosie’s needs.

As we continue to create iterations of these plans, the team has also begun our foray into creating full-scale wall section details.

Construction Progress!

Recently, construction began on our post-frame structure. Our team helped bolt together the truss system while the sub-contractors implanted the posts and lifted the trusses into place. Afterwards, they attached the purlins to the truss system in preparation for the metal roofing to come.

My First Woodshop

For our first adventure in carpentry, each member of our team was tasked with designing and making a cutting board from a set amount of wood. In the span of a couple weeks, we learned a lot about woodworking, sanding, and staining, and ended up with a striking variety of cutting boards.

Our next goal is to begin the process of testing ways to build our chair precedents. For the next few weeks, we’ll be testing out different methods for the construction of their components.

History and Watercolor

We have visited several historic homes in the past month, such as the (pictured below) Carlisle Hall, Bluff Hall, Lyon Hall, and Tasso House. It is so interesting to learn about the details of these buildings and the reasoning behind their construction, along with developing our sketching skills on site.

We also just completed our first watercolor assignment, a study of light and shadow in a monochromatic painting.

Check back soon to see how we’re makings strides on floor plans and post-frame home details!