choicehouse

Next Time You See Me, It’ll Be On Site

Since our last update, the team has been digging, chopping, drilling, and sawing our way through the project, so let’s catch up!

First up, mock-ups. To better understand the details of the project in three dimensions, the team jumped into a 1:1 mock-up of crucial project details and so far, we’re learning a lot. More than just dusting off our chop saw skills, building several details at full scale is a way for us to reflect and improve upon some of the decisions we made on paper. For example, we learned from testing the window framing that making the rough opening stud continuous not only creates fewer pieces, but allows a direct load path from header to foundation. We’re also testing the character of the porch assembly and how we can marry our desired aesthetic with required bracing for wind uplift.

To prepare to break ground, we called in a local contractor to do some serious tree removal that was beyond our capabilities, and simultaneously ripped up the existing chain link fence to create equipment access and give us a chance to fully assess its condition and salvageability. The site has never looked spiffier.

site before clearing
cleared site

And how could we not give a toast to Pig Roast?! The first ever two-day Pig Roast went swimmingly, minus the part where our team ran into a rain shower and came out looking like we’d gone for a swim. It was the first time many members of the Uniontown community were able to see the project, along with our parents, friends, and many Rural Studio alumni.

team at pig roast
pig roast fireworks

The following week stayed just as busy as teams prepped for our second Executive Review. This was a make or break moment for the future of the project, but after an intense two-hour review, all three teams were given the green light! This means it’s full steam ahead for construction.

team meets for stress test

Oh yeah, and all twelve 5th-years graduated college three days later! What a week! Diplomas might be in the mail, but things are just getting started in West Alabama. The team is taking a few days off to relax and be with family, but y’all better believe the next time you see us, it’ll be on site!

Also, a big thank you to our parents for letting us stick around West Alabama for this next phase: building the C.H.O.I.C.E. House. And to our 3rd-year friends returning to campus this fall, we’ll see you next time in Hale!

Soup-er Shelter

Soup Roast is Rural Studio’s final review and celebration for the completion of the fall semester. Every year, each team presents their work to a panel of reviewers made up of faculty and visiting architects. After tons of great design feedback, everyone ends the day with a celebratory soup dinner! Let’s look at what the C.H.O.I.C.E. House team did to prepare. 

During the weeks leading up to Soup Roast, we continued to design the form of the shelter units, paying special attention to how light will enter the consolidated core. When aggregated, these units will connect along their long sides, meaning there can only be light coming in from the two short ends. This may be fine for the two end spaces, but the core is left void of natural light. Our solution is to design a roof monitor, which is a separate piece that can be attached to the top of each unit and allow light to enter the core.

The roof monitor will be small enough to prefabricate, but large enough to give the units some extra height and presence from the exterior while also creating tall, bright, and inhabitable spaces on the interior.

On the day of Soup Roast, we presented to the panel of reviewers, including Kim Clements, Joe Schneider, and Nicole Abercrombie of JAS Design Build and Jake LaBarre of BuildingWork, all from Seattle, WA, as well as Auburn CADC faculty, David Hinson, Rusty Smith, Mackenzie Stagg, and Betsy Farrell Garcia. We were given great feedback on the roof monitor, and about how to better marry the modular function of the unit to the overall form of the aggregation.

The team ended their week by presenting their work to the C.H.O.I.C.E. board of directors and other team members. It was great to have the chance to meet with the client again, and everyone left the meeting full of excitement about the future of the project! 

After a soup-er week, we are ready to let the new ideas simmer over the break. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in January and working again at full boil!