On Site and In Studio
Since dividing into our studio teams, the 3rd-year class of Fall 2023 has hit the ground running. We’re working hard every day to accomplish our goal of completing Rosie’s Home. These days, each site team is working on different tasks to advance the current design challenges and move construction forward.
Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing
The Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing team, known on site as “MEP,” is in the midst of electrical and plumbing systems installation. Luke and Cayden are focused on plumbing design and have installed the ventilation system. They are learning the ins-and-outs of supply lines, drains, and where they all go! While the two plumbers have been hard at work, Jack and Casey are wiring up the house. After many iterations of circuit diagrams and lighting critiques with electric expert Mason, Judith, and Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi lighting design, wires are being run and light fixtures chosen.
Cabinets and Carpentry
In the meantime, Caitlin, Shannon, and Biz were off to a speedy start framing the interior walls of the house earlier this semester. Since finishing the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom walls, they are working with Steve and Judith in the Woodshop on the cabinets that were designed and built in past semesters’ Woodshop classes. The team hopes to imminently install these in Rosie’s beautiful new kitchen!
The cabinetry project for Rosie’s Home is part of an initiative to utilize healthier material alternatives in the prototype home design. These cabinets are constructed with zero-formaldehyde plywood, solid maple, and will use a low-to-zero VOC finish. On site, the home’s insulation strategy uses Havelock Wool (from sheep!), Hempitecture HempWool, and ROCKWOOL. All of these materials have reduced amounts of harmful particulates and binding agents compared to typical fiberglass or spray-in foam insulation.
Back on site, Emma J., Emma A., Kylie, and Tanner are working to turn this house into a home through thoughtful choices of interior finishes. The team is building on-site mock-ups of the interior wall and ceiling materials in which they tested finish options. In all this, they are keeping in mind the lessons learned from “The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building.” Rosie’s interior will likely be paneled in tongue-in-groove cypress planks, finished in a to-be-determined shade, along the more utilized corridor of the home for durability and visual connection to the porch exterior.
On the outside, Kati, McAllister, Hannah, and Bailey are tackling many jobs to make sure the exterior of the home is sealed tight. They have worked at great heights to cut and install skylights, the first in awhile for the Studio—oh, the things you can do with a second roof! They have also cut to size and installed nearly all the exterior metal cladding. Preparations have since begun for installation of exterior wood cladding on the porch wall. The material change on the front porch offers a change in scale and softer material on the most protected, and most occupied, wall of the exterior.
Knock on Wood
Our journey in Woodshop Class this semester began with a fantastic introduction as we delved into the world of cutting boards. With two pieces of maple and one of walnut, we set out to test our new woodworking skills and flex our creativity. The initial cutting board project served as a practice run for all the tools in the shop, allowing us to gain confidence and skill in using these essential tools before diving into the main project of the semester.
After conquering the cutting board challenge, we embarked on an even more exciting journey—crafting iconic chairs. We are divided into five teams, each taking on the task of remaking a famous architectural chair from scratch. This year’s lineup is all classics from the Rural Studio Woodshop chair history books. Which is your favorite!?
- Frei Edigio Chair by Lina Bo Bardi
- Kati Warner, Mcallister Tucker, and Cayden Davis
- Luke Bradberry, Bailey Kennedy, and Kylie Kendall
- Zig Zag Chair by Gerrit Rietveld
- Emma Avery, Shannon Brennan, and Biz Helms
- Standard Chair No. 4 by Jean Prouvé
- Jack Felder, Tanner Wallace, and Casey Dillard
- Stool No. 60 by Alvar Aalto
- Caitlin Ranheim, Emma Johnson, and Hannah Weiland
We’re currently wrapping up the mock-up phase, crafting preliminary versions of each chair design. This essential step allows us to address any issues, refine techniques, and fine-tune details before we embark on the final build. It’s a thrilling time as we embrace challenges and ensure our final chairs stay true to their iconic counterparts. Stay tuned for the final products!
On the Road for History
Our history adventure kicks off with a tour of Greek Revival and Federal homes from primarily the 19th century. These historic gems surround us in the Black Belt, offering a glimpse into the past. Guided by professor Dick Hudgens, we explore these homes, examining and documenting their intricate period details and architectural spatial qualities. Sites we have toured so far are…
- Glencairn – Greensboro, AL
- Magnolia Grove – Greensboro, AL
- Bluff Hall & Lyons Hall – Demopolis, AL
- Folsom Farm – Marion, AL
- Thornhill – Boligee, AL
- Gaineswood Hall – Demopolis, AL
But this class is more than just sightseeing, Hudgens challenges us to create quick sketches of these homes, encouraging us to learn by doing. We sketch elevations, plans, details, and sections, making us appreciate and question the architecture in a more hands-on and critical way.
Homework assignments are far from typical. We practice our art and observation skills through small watercolor paintings of landscapes and architectural details. This isn’t just about honing our artistic abilities but connecting with the artistry of the past.
As the semester progresses, our skills culminate in a final, large-scale, watercolor painting. This time, not of historic homes but everyday objects like a carton of eggs or a garden hose in the grass. We’re tasked with turning these items into captivating art, all of this with natural pigments we’ve collected and made throughout the semester!
We’ve just soaked and stapled our large-scale paper for the final project, and our classroom buzzes with excitement. Every student pours their artistic soul into this project, inspired by the historic beauty of Newbern, Alabama.
Good Eats and Birthday Celebrations
Time is moving fast here in Newbern, we’re past mid-semester already! In recent news, Rural Studio’s beloved Chef Catherine has returned! Since then Cat’s cooking has been nothing short of impeccable, in our humble opinion. Some of the 3rd-year’s favorite meals include vegetable soup, BBQ pork, and chicken-fried steak. Her return also means an updated salad bar including bacon bits, hummus, and fresh garden lettuce! You can certainly say the 3rd-year class is excited to have Catherine back.
Our class has also celebrated some very important birthdays in the last couple of weeks. We partied for our clients’—Rosie and Frankie’s—birthdays in style. Rosie’s party included a delicious confetti cake with chocolate frosting after a mini review of the house. For his birthday, Frankie hosted a potluck BBQ with the entire studio for his birthday. The 3rd-year students brought Milo’s sweet tea, burger fixings, wacky chips, bacon green beans, ramen slaw, and Kylie’s Famous Corn Dip. Frankie cooked the burgers, Conecuh sausage, and catfish. Judith brought sweet potato pie, Frankie’s favorite dessert!
All in all the 3rd-years have been living the life here at Rural Studio.
Before we go, get to know us a little more! Here are the studio’s favorite meals that Chef Cat has cooked for us!
Biz Helms: BBQ sandwich
Caitlin Ranheim: Beef tips over rice
Casey Dillard: BBQ pork
Cayden Davis: Spaghetti
Emma Avery: Spaghetti
Emma Johnson: Chicken-fried steak
Hannah Weiland: Vegetable soup
Jack Felder: Mac & cheese and steamed okra
Kati Warner: Vegetable soup
Kylie Kendall: Lasagna
Luke Bradberry: BBQ pork
McAllister Tucker: Vegetable soup
Shannon Brennan: Blackened chicken and candied yams
Tanner Wallace: Squash casserole
We’ll get back to work! Check in soon to hear about our Halloween Review and see our costumes! Until then, thank you for reading!