Halloweenreviews

The Emerging Story of the Emergency Shelters

Every year during spooky season, the Studio hosts visiting architects and professors for a day of “boos” and reviews. This hallowed event has come to be known as Halloween Reviews, and every student was “working like a dog” to prepare. Let’s look at “a day in the life” of the C.H.O.I.C.E. House team leading up to the big review, shall we? (Ps. Can you guess what the team’s costume was by the end of this post?) 

The team began by preparing all the drawings they would need for their presentation. They consolidated the existing plans, sections, and diagrams from “here, there and everywhere,” and completed any new drawings that were needed.

Next up, the team needed to make edits to their presentation and practice presenting to other teams in preparation for Halloween Reviews. This task is a never-ending process that the team seems to be working on “eight days a week!” But, they got it done, “with a little help from my friends.” 

team revises presentation
cohort meeting at cat drop

Once the team was confident in their presentation, they decided to “let it be.” Next, they started to “bang bang” their “silver hammers” to build full-scale mock-ups of two out of the four units. These mock-ups allowed people to experience the small space inside and the different porch conditions created by the units. 

assembling walls from abov

On Wednesday night, the team took a break to celebrate the annual Pumpkin Carve, an Auburn Architecture tradition. Everyone from the community is invited to “come together,” outside Red Barn to carve pumpkins and eat foot long hot dogs… because “all you need is love,” pumpkins, and hot dogs, right?!”

The day before Halloween reviews, the team spent “fixing a hole” and “filling the cracks” of the mock-ups and their presentation. After “a hard day’s night,” the big day had finally arrived. Under a “sky of blue and sea of green,” teams dressed in costumes the students presented and the reviewers, “speaking words of wisdom.”

team presents

The team received a lot of helpful feedback on their work that really help to “shake it up, baby!” Now, the C.H.O.I.C.E. House team is ready to get back to the drawing board and “work it on out!”

the beetles as beatles
Four beetles as Beatles: Ringo, John, Paul, and George!

“We hope you have enjoyed the show. We’re sorry but it’s time to go. We’d like to thank you once again.”

Did you guess our costumes by the end? 

Houses and Haunts

Déjà vu? The Patriece’s Home team stumbled and waddled into reviews on Friday dressed as the Perry Lakes Park Restrooms and Boardwalk, a 2003 Rural Studio project in Marion, Alabama. 

Halloween reviews is the time of year when the team presents (in costume) to a mix of outside reviewers. This critical feedback brings the insight needed to push the project design to the next stage of development. 

Aside from crafting stylish bathrooms from cardboard and duct tape, the team received and did inventory on their tool trailer. Most importantly the Patriece’s Home team has been hard at work analyzing plan options and room relationships that make a buildable, beautiful, and adaptable home.  

This set of iterations was focused on what has been called pivot points, or design-driving decisions, such as porch type and house orientation. With so many options and variables, these decisions allowed the team to test and compare multiple different approaches to designing a multi-generational home. 

In addition to parsing through pending plans and pivot points, the team worked with the other two 5th-year student teams to build and refine a presentation for reviews, and it wouldn’t be Halloween week without a few necessary breaks for pumpkin-carving! 

Moundville Mud Pies For Sale

Analyzing the Pavilion’s Structure

After Fall semester break, the Moundville Pavilion team focused on moving the design forward and shifting the narrative from the physical boards to a digital presentation for Halloween Reviews. This process included looking back at all the work we have done up to this point and learning how to begin talking about the narrative of the project. Some of the first steps we took were to understand the previous team’s motivations through their drawings and to diagram them.

The pavilion is designed to shed water and protect while also allowing light in and emphasizing views outward

Pumpkin Carving!

Wednesday night, the Studio participated in the College of Architecture Design and Construction’s Annual Pumpkin Carve tradition (in Newbern!) by trading our pencils for carving tools and having fun with our neighbors.

Dressed for Success

By Friday, the costumes were sewn, or in some cases taped, and the presentation was ready. The team created a familiar scene for the viewers, a Girl Scout (Caitlyn) selling cookies (Collin) at Publix (Jackie), while her mother (Brenton) supported her entrepreneurial spirit. The Studio welcomed Marlon Blackwell, Meryati Johari Blackwell, Jen Pindyck, Emilie Taylor Welty, and the Front Porch Initiative team to participate in the festivities and provide feedback that will help the team move forward. Forward to what exactly? Well, you’ll just have to catch us next month on the Moundville Pavilion team blog!

Halloween in Hale

Happy Halloween! Rural Studio wasn’t the same last year without our annual traditional Halloween celebration. This year, we made up for it tenfold by carving pumpkins with our neighbors and friends again, and holding outdoor reviews during which everyone could show off their elaborately-handmade costumes.

Our annual Pumpkin Carve was held on Wednesday at Red Barn, and the event would not have been possible without our partnership with the incredible Newbern Library Team. Thank you to Barbara Williams and Mary Jane Everett for helping put together a successful event, and shoutout to the Braxton family and Chris Carter for providing hotdogs fresh off the grill!

We held Halloween Reviews on Friday, where current student teams presented their projects to special guest reviewers. Our fantastic crew of reviewers included Marlon Blackwell and Meryati Johari Blackwell of Marlon Blackwell Architects; Tulane University’s Assistant Director of the Small Center, Emilie Taylor Welty; Auburn University’s Assistant Professor, Jen Pindyck; and Auburn’s Front Porch Initiative Team: Betsy Farrell Garcia, Mackenzie Stagg, and Rusty Smith.

four costumed people stand in front of drawings and a large tv screen while talking to an audience wearing sweaters and jackets

Most importantly, students all wore their costumes while presenting their projects to the talented team of reviewers. There’s nothing like presenting design work to an AIA Gold Medalist while wearing a fake mustache and bowl-cut brunette wig.

At the end of the day, we announced winners for the Pumpkin Carving Contest and the Costume Contest. Thanks to the Newbern Mercantile and the Newbern Library for providing amazing prizes! Congrats to all and thank you to our judges!

Ready to Transform

From costume contests to coding classes, the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project takes on a new form everyday.

In the past weeks, the team has been designing a Pod which is a small dwelling or dorm that 3rd-years use for sleep and storage. The Pod will be used to test the Optimal Tuning Theory. The team presented the Optimal Tuning Theory and their current pod design at the annual Rural Studio Halloween Review. Unfortunately, all of you lovely readers were not able to make the review, so this post will be dedicated to explaining the Optimal Tuning Theory and showing off the teams Halloween Review Costumes.

What is the Optimal Tuning Theory?

First, let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way, what are Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation? Thermal Mass is a property of the mass of a building which enables it to store and release heat. A typical example would be an adobe home or pueblo where the thick, earthen walls absorb the hot, desert sun during the day keeping the interior space cool. Later during the cold, desert night the thick, earthen walls release that heat into the interior thus warming the space. Buoyancy Ventilation, often refereed to as the “stack” or “chimney” effect, utilizes the natural ventilation cycle of hot air rising and cool air falling to supply air to a space without mechanical systems.

The Optimal Tuning Theory theorizes that a space can be comfortably and passively ventilated, heated, and cooled by coupling an internal Thermal Mass with Buoyancy Ventilation. If these systems are synchronized or “optimally tuned” it would allow architects and builders to use the ancient practice of Thermal Mass building in a more predictive manner. The typical issue with Thermal Mass buildings is that the Thermal Mass is never able to release all the heat it absorbed in the day, therefore the cycle does not start over the next day and the passive system does not work efficiently. By keeping the Thermal Mass on the interior, shaded from the sun and insulated, and using Buoyancy Ventilation to draw out access heat or supply heat from the air, the system is able to reset for the next day. The Optimal Tuning Theory is the crux of the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project.

The Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project Team will build a Pod as a scientific instrument to test the Optimal Tuning Theory. A Pod is an appropriate, human scale that they can test the temperature and air flows of easily and can be inhabited by 3rd-years later on.

Now for the real magic, Rural Studio’s own Transformers! Each TMBVRP team member transformed into a classic Rural Studio vehicle. From left to right starred: Livia Barrett as Andrew Freear’s Honda Fit including his front license plate that reads “British Nut;” Rowe Price as the crisp, new Student Truck; Cory Subasic as Hale County Classic Tractor fit with hand wheels; and Jeff Jeong as our beloved Johnny Parker’s beloved BobCat. The team came second in the local costume contest, but Jeff won Best Pumpkin! Thanks for TUNING in, we hope to see you at Soup Roast!