You haven’t heard from the 18×18 House team in a while.
And they’ve been busy! Now officially “leftovers,” the squares graduated in early May, so everyone is feeling grown-up and very official. Pig Roast was a great chance for friends and family and visitors to catch up with the project, and for the team to explain the scheme of the house they were planning to build.
But then, everything changed…..AGAIN. Very recently, the 18×18 House was flipped on its head another time, with sleeping and bath on the ground floor and living and cooking elevated above. By cutting the third-story loft almost in half and extending it to the dormer, they found more usable space up there and vertical interest in the house. Now, the living room is below a balcony of sorts, and the loft has access to operable windows in the dormer. The team is pretty excited about making a double-height space happen in the living room, because the house now has a grand reveal when going up the main stairs.
At the same time, the mock-up has begun! The squares got their first shovels in the ground and poured their backyard slab for their doghouse-sized version of the project. Next comes tiny framed walls, sheathing, and cladding. Getting started with work on site is just around the corner!
The 18×18 House team kicked off the past month with their most important deadline so far, the first Executive Review. Justin Miller (Associate Professor and Head, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture), Rusty Smith (Rural Studio Associate Director), and Rural Studio faculty were all in attendance to evaluate the team’s progress and give important feedback as the team prepares to push towards the next construction phase after graduation. At this review, the team also gave a new version of their presentation where they talked in depth about the different types of constrains on rural sites.
They got some great feedback from this Executive Review and kept working to refine the details of the design and structure. For the next few weeks, the team shifted focus towards the porch and overall cladding strategy of the 18×18 House.
The first event after the review was one of the most inspiring times of the project. The team finally met their client and received the site they will be building on! Their client Detyrick is a Greensboro native, and the team is very excited to be working with him in the coming months. After meeting the client, the team headed out onto the site for their 1st round of surveying to get an idea of what the topography is that they’ll be working with.
The next week, Chicago architect Pete Landon came to Newbern. He worked with the team on the aperture placements in the 18×18 House. Pete challenged the team to work from the inside out. First, they should use the size and height of windows to direct light and views in the space. Then they should put this plan to the test with a mock-up. So, the team built a full-size stud wall, which they tilted up and covered with rigid insulation to mock-up the living space. The exercise helped them understand where to increase the perceived size of the room with openings in the wall and the storage wall.
The team used their mock-up wall to pin up their work for their next guests: North Carolina architects Katherine Hogan and Vincent Petrarca. The pin up wall was a disaster, but the workshop was a lot of fun. They built on the previous workshops by working on the apertures in elevation and considering the porch.
The final guest was Louisville architect Roberto De Leon. He pushed the team to explore the spatial qualities of the storage wall and porch and dive into some finer details.
So much has happened for the 18×18 House team in such a short time. With a client in mind and a site to study, the project feels more real than ever and the team could not be more excited for what is to come. And as the end of the semester approaches, the team will be building mock-ups, getting their hands dirty, and doing everything they can to set the project up for success ahead of Pig Roast and the final Executive Review.
It’s been a busy month for the 18×18 House! Design of the house is moving into a technical mix of details, framing, material choices, and structural design.
The team finally got to meet the FPI building partners from Nashville, TN, whose idea created the 18×18 project. Eddie Latimer, CEO of Affordable Housing Resources, and Barbara Harper from Honeybee Builders spent Valentine’s Day in Hale County with the Front Porch Initiative and students. The 18×18 House team presented their work to Eddie and Barbara and received feedback on expectations for the project. It was an exciting day for all of us!
The same week, engineer Joe Burns and architect Dan Wheeler came back to Newbern to help the teams move forward with structural and detail strategies. A first round of full-size details made it onto the wall for discussion, and the team explored structural possibilities for the house’s storage system.
New York architect Andrew Berman also came to work in Hale County this month. He pushed the 18×18 House team further into designing a loft for the house, and his visit left them ready to make that space bigger, better, and more usable. Now the team is exploring how to design a dormer to make an upper level for the house, which could be an extra bedroom, workspace, living area, playroom… the list of possibilities is growing!
And this month brought tool trailers into the mix! Keys were made, inventory was taken, and spirits are high as Executive Reviews (and construction!) get closer. Check in next month to see where the team is after their biggest review of the year!
The 18×18 House team has hit the ground running this semester!
Soup Roast left this project at a turning point with details and built-in storage in mind. Now, the team is considering both construction logistics and how the project design can be used outside of Hale County. After the fall semester, the 18×18 House has two versions of its (dare we say…final?) plan. The two versions are the team’s new solution for “flippability.” This means the house can be built with a kitchen either upstairs or downstairs with minimal design changes made.
As the first visitors of 2023, Jim Stockard and Chris Herbert came all the way from Harvard University. Chris Herbert is Managing Director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. James Stockard is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. They are housing and policy specialists and educators, so they helped the team understand the best ways to talk about the 18×18 House and its connection to housing as a social issue.
February began with a visit from architect Mike Newman and housing specialist Katrina Van Valkenburg, friends of the Studio who have been coming to Newbern for years. Mike and Katrina challenged the team to think about the logistics of building a storage wall into the house. The team is considering a shelving and cabinetry system to maximize the impact of the stairs while providing the house with privacy and some extra storage space.
The first month back in Newbern has flown by, and the 18×18 team is getting excited about building! The new year has brought structural and systems drawings to the table, and new design ideas are always on the way. Check in next month to see where the team is headed in 2023!
For the last few months, the18x18 House team has been refining their narrative and finally settled on their core criteria:
To be marketable as an urban house, an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) and a rural house, the 18×18 must be dignifying, adaptable, efficient, and flippable.
The team was given a potential Nashville site by a developer working with the Front Porch Initiative just in time to be visited by Anne Marie Duvall Decker and Shannon Gathings from Duvall Decker in Jackson, MS. They were able to help the team analyze the implications of the Nashville policy that causes affordable housing to be placed in the area usually reserved for parking. They also worked with the team to explore ways to bring beauty and dignity to these places when aggregating 18×18 houses.
While the team had started out exploring dozens of plans, refining the priorities was a big step that made it easier to determine which schemes stood out as the most successful. So, for Soup Roast, the team prepared drawings of their two favorite schemes: The first was a scheme that used a 90-degree stair with a short run at the bottom. The team worked at stacking plumbing fixtures vertically against an exterior wall and named this scheme The Bar.
The second and favorite scheme was named Short Run Above – this scheme used a modified switchback stair with the shorter run of the stairs landing on the second floor. The team liked this scheme because of how generous the spaces were in the plan whether it was ‘flipped’ or not, and for the variety they could get when modifying it slightly with lofts, powder rooms, or other additional program without changing the nature of the layout. These qualities made it the obvious choice to present to the Soup Roast reviewers as the one to move forward with.
Soup Roast brought the return of Seattle visitors, Jake LaBarre, Kim Clements, and Joe Schneider since they first joined the team back during workshops. The Front Porch Initiative team also returned for the reviews. As returning visitors, they were all able to assess how far the project had come since the initial start and were able to give the team some much needed perspective. Along with the returning visitors, others in attendance were Mike Freeman and Nicole Abercrombie (J.A.S.), as well as Will McGarity (Auburn faculty).
During the review the team was encouraged to challenge the way they think about furniture and layouts. They were also encouraged to start getting into some of the details of the stair as a structural member and/or any possible built-ins. The next day they put these ideas to the test with a charrette where the team considered developing a ‘standard’ version of the plan which they could use to delve into structural details.
Now Christmas break has started, but the team has not stopped. They’ll be taking the first stabs at structural drawings and other finer details of the 18×18 House. Come back in 2023 to see what happens next!