Hello everyone and welcome back to the Rural Studio Bathhouse Blog! This semester has been super busy for our team. We’ve had several incredible visitors, and we are very excited to share where our project is now!
After winter break, the team took some time to consider the best path forward for the project. We are considering the possibility of reusing existing structures on campus. As a mass timber project, we were especially intrigued by the idea of reusing—and directly connecting to—the Breathing Wall Mass Timber Research Project pods. The pods were designed as the final scale experiment on breathing wall technology and then were to be used as living pods.
The Breathing Wall team put an exceptional amount of hard work and attention into the structure, and we admire the detailed level of craft that they exhibited. We see the reuse of these pods as a testament and celebration of the amazing work that they did before.
Reusing the Breathing Wall pods will allow the very well-constructed buildings to become a part of permanent infrastructure that all 3rd-year students will be able to inhabit and enjoy. The texture and the warmth of the wood walls will be celebrated when natural light is introduced. Since the entrances to these pods face away from the “Supershed street,” this orientation has the potential to create layers of privacy in the new Bathhouse.
The reuse also sets the Studio up with a strategic plan for development in the future. With the Bathhouse now in the middle of the “Supershed street,” a kitchen/dining space can also be added to the middle of the street, helping strengthen the social aspect of this space. This leaves several other accessible bays of the Supershed open, which could be used for new sleeping pods if needed. This would also help reconnect the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project pods into the streetscape. Re-grading the first four bays of the Supershed will allow for one accessible entry into the Bathhouse (and any further developments), setting the precedent for accessibility on campus for the future.
The visitors for this month challenged us to consider the best organization of spaces for the Bathhouse based on the reuse of the Breathing Wall pods. Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture in Chicago, IL, came back to work in Hale County; they helped us think of the overall concepts and form of the spaces we are creating.
Joe Burns and Dan Wheeler, also from Chicago, IL, re-entered the mix and provided excellent help thinking through several different structural techniques and organizational layouts of the spaces.
Andrew Berman from New York, NY, challenged us to think about the experience of using a Bathhouse facility within a community of people. This opened our eyes to layers of privacy while reimagining the Rural Studio ritual of using the Bathhouse as a 3rd-year.
With the help of our visiting consultants, we reimagined the existing Breathing Wall pods as public spaces that include two new structures to provide toilet and bathing spaces. The structures would create a privacy gradient as users move farther from the Supershed and closer to the forest, which would begin to envelope the building. The team is still considering the exact mass timber construction method for the two new structures. A new shed roof will stretch over all the structures, and a series of clerestories will bring natural light into each of the spaces.
We are very excited to progress with this scheme and work towards construction.
Thanks for following along and we look forward to updating our progress soon!
– Rural Studio Bathhouse Team
Carla, Ambar, Ashley, and Logan