Bath in the Swing of Things

Happy New Year’s Day, Groundhog Day, and Valentine’s Day!

Welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse Team blog! We have had a very busy winter break and month of January. We are excited to share what we’ve been up to recently.

Over the break, we spent a lot of time reflecting on our work so far and tried to think through ways of making our project more feasible. This led us to reducing the scale of our project back down to just the bathhouse, allowing all our effort to be put into one program and possibly allowing another team the opportunity to design the kitchen/dining space for the pods. We are excited to show our designs very soon!

The first week back in class, we welcomed Jim Stockard and Chris Herbert 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 graced us with their abundant knowledge of housing and the economics behind it. They also proved to be excellent helpers with our project and challenged us to reconsider how we think about accessibility within it.

Students and faculty review drawings
The team producing to Chris and Jim

To welcome everyone back to campus, all students and faculty participated in the Rural Studio tradition of “Neckdown” during the second week of class. This week of work allows students to get their hands dirty doing tasks around campus and surrounding communities. Tasks for the week included painting the Bodark Amphitheater, the Safe House Museum, the Newbern Firehouse stairs, and the Newbern Playground; we also rebuilt the raised garden beds in the greenhouse and insulated the plumbing underneath Morrisette House and the kitchen. 

More recently, we welcomed Mike Newman and Katrina Van Valkenburgh from Chicago into the fold. They brought with them an excellent knowledge of accessibility and constructability. Mike challenged us to nail down the big ideas of our project, so that we can begin to really understand how to make it happen.

Students and faculty review drawings with reviewers
The team reviewing with Katrina Van Valkenburgh and Mike Newman

We are continuing with the drumbeat of visitors every week and are excited to see where this year takes us! Follow along to see what we are up to each month. 

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley and Logan

Group of students gather around drawings to review together
Yours truly

Just a Bunch of Toilet-Trees

Hello again, and welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse team blog! The past few weeks have been super busy, but they have also been very fun and festive. We are excited to show what we’ve been up to!

Every year, Rural Studio goes all out for Halloween. To begin the events, our team enjoyed taking a small break in the work of our project to carve pumpkins and spend time with the 3rd-years. We also got to know more of our neighbors. 

The festivities continued through to the day of Halloween Reviews. The day began with the long-awaited reveal of everyone’s costumes. Our team made our debut as a clever pun on the bathroom word “toiletries.” (Obviously, the ladies misunderstood the assignment.)

The good times kept rolling with reviews of each project while everyone remained in costume, of course. We presented to a wonderful group of reviewers after lunch and received an abundant amount of excellent feedback. 

The day of mischief ended with a parade of the costumes and the crowning of the costume contest champs, ahem, yours truly.

Students in costume walk across road

Since Halloween, we have had more presentations and reviews with visitors. 

First, Frank Harmon and Dan Wheeler visited Newbern. They gave our team something beautiful: constraints. They spent a morning with us charretting through smaller floor plan iterations within a boundary determined on site. 

We found this to be extremely helpful since it gave us a framework for making decisions. Frank and Dan challenged us to fully consider the prospect of adding a kitchen and dining space into the program as well as to really imagine the experience of occupying the spaces within our building, especially the showers.

Frank and Dan ended their visit with an informative and refreshing sketching and watercolor workshop around Newbern!

More recently, we welcomed David Baker, Amanda Loper, and Brett Jones from David Baker Architects into the fold. They challenged us to remember the scale of the campus as well as to really dive deep into the sizes of pieces of program. 

Man sketches as team and others watch on

After another charrette with them thinking about these concepts, the team made a full-scale mockup of a plan to see its size and relationship to the objects surrounding. It was great to also see the size of a kitchen within our building!

Our team is excited to move forward with a clear logic for placing the building. We feel that it is important to place the building in an open bay of the Supershed to allow covered access from the Pods. By placing the building next to the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Pods, the street edge is reestablished and activated. The public spaces such as the kitchen, dining, and laundry will front the Supershed, while the private spaces such as the bathrooms and showers will spread out toward the forest to the North.

We are continuing to work through plan iterations but we have also begun to zoom in to look at what the experience of showering and bathing could look like. These models explore different ways to arrange the spaces: apertures for allowing light to enter, apertures for allowing views out into the forest, and different types of fixtures and materials.

We look forward to continuing these studies and working through floor plans further. We are quickly moving towards Thanksgiving break and Soup Roast will be here before you know it!

Thanks for reading along and stay tuned for an update soon!

Team of 4 students poses inside mocked-up floor plan

– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team

Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan