ruralstudio

Here Comes the Leftovers

Students walk across the street
DOO-DOO-DOO-DOO

Since the team’s last blog post, a lot has happened. All of April was spent preparing for Pig Roast and the Executive Reviews that followed. The team focused on refining our thesis to fit our goals. We tried to bring the level of detail of the whole house up to as high a standard as possible. There always seems to be another layer of detail to dive into as we learn more about the project.

One to one detail drawing of whole house section.

These big upcoming reviews naturally meant that we needed to spend more time on how the house feels, inside and out. We are having a good time zooming out of detail land and drawing through how the elevations may look and what kind of interior finishes we want. We have some general criteria for making these decisions, but we are approaching a time when seeing how these things look in real life is becoming ever more important.

We also finally have a site! Due to the nature of our project being non-site-specific, it made sense to spend a certain amount of time designing the house without the bias of knowing where our version would go. We are excited to dive deeper into the site, analyzing every inch. Our site is fairly flat undeveloped land, surrounded by trees. Also, it is located right off the road in downtown Newbern. With the downtown projects so close by, we have a high bar to live up to!

Model of house photoshopped onto site photo

We still have to explore through drawings, models, and research before we can try building. Even so, a mock-up is on the horizon. While the finishes are important, the most critical parts of the building process are what need to be tested with this mock-up. The processes of building, moving, installing, and protecting these cores throughout that duration is the real focus of our thesis, along with how all of that process will impact the house.

Pig Roast!

Enough about the preparations. We had a great Pig Roast Weekend! Both 5th-year teams worked hard, and we all felt our presentations went well. It was a beautiful day, and the wind blew our drawings away only once—nice! We tried to have some fun and act out our building process. A little improv went a long way. In the end, it was great to celebrate with friends and family, and the event at Chantilly was unforgettable.

Did someone say leftovers?!

After all that fun, we had to go to Auburn for the much less fun but equally (in some ways) important Graduation. So that’s it. We are adults now who have all the answers to everything. There is nothing we are unprepared for in the real world because now we have a degree. All jokes aside, it has been a pleasure to spend our final school year at Rural Studio. We are so thankful for our time at Auburn and beyond excited to start our time as leftovers to continue the hard work.

Students pose together at graduation
WAR DAMN EAGLE!

Get MEPped

Spring has sprung on the 18×18 House site! And with the grass, flowers, and leaves on the trees, new things are springing up inside the house too…

After installing their Pella windows at the start of this semester, the team kept moving with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing rough-ins, or MEP for short. That means pipes and wires!

First up were the drain, waste, and ventilation pipes. The PVC had to be cut and sections fitted together, leveled to slope downwards everywhere, and then taken apart to be glued BACK together. It took some trial and error, but Julie was on top of it.

After drain pipes were glued and checked for leaks, the team moved on to water supply lines. These had to be run to the outside of the house, where eventually the main line will be connected to the water meter.

Student with water line

Inside the house, flexible pipes snake through the walls to a few places. They eventually reach the locations of everything that will use water: the bathroom sink, toilet, shower, kitchen sink, washing laundry, outdoor hose, and refrigerator. Some of the spaces were tight, but once again, Julie saved the day.

Then we ALSO checked all of those pipes for leaks, but this time using air pressure.

Student reading air pressure

Meanwhile, we were also filling the walls with wires to run electricity throughout the house. Wires need to run to every single outlet, switch, and fixture, which can get complicated in a compact space like the 18×18 House.

But fear not! Meagan kept track of all the circuits, which all worked when tested! Phew.

And if that weren’t enough to keep everyone busy, the team has been finalizing some new flashing details for the exterior of the house. The 18×18 House will have about two-thirds of its cladding bumped out by a couple inches to add some dimension to the metal siding. Jake’s on that one!

Look at him. We’re all so proud.

Student with flashing mock-ups

And the FINAL thing the team has done to date… interior finishes! As the insulation and drywall stages approach, the “18s” are deciding on flooring, stair materials, railings, you name it.

The spring evenings in Hale County are setting the 18×18 House aglow every day. Keep an eye out for more changes as spring turns to summer, and as the team gets closer to the finish line!

A Neckdown to Rain-member

Student mixing soil

It’s that time of year again…time for Spring “Neckdown” Week! It was a damp week all around Newbern, but the weather didn’t slow us down. All of the students and faculty got their hands dirty helping out.

Around Morrisette House, the Farm got plenty of attention and preparation for the coming growing season. We pulled out cover crops, tarped beds in the field, and started seeds in the greenhouse when the rain caught up to us. The front fence even got a facelift!

Work on the Fabrication Pavilion was one of the biggest Neckdown tasks this semester. A rotating crew of students spent time reinforcing each column to get ready for the pavilion’s second phase. There was almost as much scaffolding as people on site…

Other spots around town got some love too! The model homes and Newbern Town Hall both had facelifts, with lots of cleaning and repainting all around.

Another one of the main (and muddy!) projects for the week happened at Perry Lakes Park. The park boardwalk now has brand-new boards in place, ready for anyone who wants to come visit.

Now that Neckdown is behind us for the semester, it’s time to really dive into the projects. Keep up with each team’s blog posts to see where this spring takes us!

People carrying lumber through woods

New Year, Same Squares

The 18×18 House team has hit the ground running this semester!

students sitting in front of presentation

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!

student sitting by presentation

I’m Floored

It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from the Patriece’s Home team.

We last left them in the middle of their window installation, and since then they’ve finished! The fenestrations definitely gave the home its facial features and the wonderful Pella-donated windows filled the interior with beautiful light. 

The team also installed the Pella-donated exterior doors. The doors have integrated windows to give the home even more exterior daylight and now the team can lock up the house when they leave for the day. 

With such lovely natural light, the team met with designer Thomas Paterson of Lux Populi again to finalize a complementary artificial lighting plan. The group selected fixtures and bulbs that won’t attempt to replicate daytime light but give a different type of warm cast and task light for differing interior program.

With the stairs complete, it was easier for the team to bring tongue-and-groove plywood to lay the subfloor within their attic truss. 

Once the subfloor was complete, the team could then finally finish their interior framing! The upstairs rooms have taken shape, and the team got very excited about the possibilities for flexible room at the top of the stairs. 

They also put half-inch plywood along the interior walls of the stairs to later attach a durable layer of tongue-and-groove cypress boards. With a surface to cast light on, the team got even more excited about the exterior light from the windows at the top and bottom of the stairs. 

With all the walls established, the group began looking toward wall fillers in preparation to enclose them with drywall (and with endless miscellaneous blocking). 

We enjoyed installing the downstairs shower and upstairs bathtub base. From there, the team began fitting together the PVC drain, water, and vent system to the stub outs connections from the main drain in the concrete slab. 

With the chunky PCV filling the walls, the group began routing flexible PEX tubing through the house. These water supply lines connect to their various fixture stub outs in the bathrooms and kitchen. 

Then it was time for electrical boxes and outlets to find their place in the wall. With the supervision of some expert help, the team installed the two electrical units. These separate outlet boxes offer the opportunity for power to be individually accessed and maintained. With all the wire strung, the house is ready to be plugged into the meter on the temporary power pole outside. Just like decorating for the holidays. We might as well: the house is already green. 

Speaking of holidays, Soup Roast snuck up on the team so fast! The four tidied up for the visitors and started the special day’s project tour with a quick presentation of their home. The crowd got to wander around the home. It’s safe to say it was well received! 

The team has a lot to be thankful for in their second holiday season at Rural Studio. The opportunity to build, the wonderful community that supports them, delicious food, and a home now ready for insulation and drywall! Check back here in the new year for more big updates on Patriece’s Home!