Live from Fall 2021 Neckdown Week, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project Team (TMBV)–and helpers! This week, the team accomplished a variety of tasks with the help of the 5th and 3rd-year students.
First on the agenda, the team completed the Cooling Porch ground surfaces. This included packing crushed ground surface concrete pieces and building the stairs. The Cooling Porch stairs were comprised of stacked concrete pieces cut from the foundation pour excess. David Hill, professor in Auburn’s School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning, got in on the concrete saw action! Continuing on the stair action, the team also installed the steel stringer and handrails for the Test Building entry. After pouring a concrete footing for the steel stair, Rowe came back and welded on all the treads.
With all the groundwork in the Cooling Porch finally complete and three sets of stairs built, the TMBV team is calling this Neckdown week a huge success. Thank you to all our helpers this week! Next up, thermal mass concrete panels–stay tuned!
Live from the Test Buildings, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project team. After swiftly assembling the Test Buildings, the graduate team began weatherproofing. The team’s goal is to have the buildings protected from rain quickly so they can get to work on installing the thermal mass panels on the interior. The weatherproofing systems are designed to mitigate heat gain in different ways to eliminate experimental variation.
First, the team covered the buildings in shingled tar paper–a heavy-duty, waterproof construction paper. Next, the team installed battens which create space between the structure and cladding allowing for ventilation and avoiding heat gain. The roof is also ventilated and covered with highly reflective, low albedo corrugated sheet metal. This means the materiality and color of the roof are fighting solar radiation.
Lastly, the team installed the beautiful steel door frames. Turnipseed International donated the steel and Brad of Superior Metals LLC welded the frames Thanks for reading and stay tuned.
Live from inside the TMBV Test Buildings, it’s the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research team! This week the team assembled the structural and insulative envelopes of the Test Building in record time. Instead of traditional timber framing, Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) create the Test Buildings structure. After installing the SIP floors, the students assembled the remaining panels into walls, ceilings, and chimneys. This allowed for each structural plane to be craned into place. Just like a giant Leggo set! The panels were adjusted by two students in an articulating man lift and secured in place using special SIP screws. The joints where walls, floors, and ceiling met were made water and airtight with SIP sealant. In under 11 hours total, all eight walls, two ceilings, and four chimneys came together to create two sturdy, insulated shells. In the coming month, the team will weather-proof the buildings in order to begin installing the thermal mass interiors.
A little bit of Prep!
Building One: 6 Hours
Building Two: 4 hours and 45 minutes
With both buildings assembled, the Thermal Mass and Buoyancy Ventilation Research team is drinking in the rewards of their hard work. This construction method takes a lot of prefabrication and intricate planning to go so smoothly. The team loves the relations of the buildings to each other, to the Cooling Porch, and to the Morrisette Campus. They will be keeping up the momentum so make sure to stay tuned!
Live from atop multiple completed surfaces, it’s the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research team! They’ve been busy staying grounded and flooring onlookers! The team has nearly completed the Cooling Porch and fully installed the Test Buildings floor and walkway. Let’s get right into it!
Making a Mosaic
After properly stacking the Cooling Porch retaining walls, the TMBV team filled the enclosure with 4″ of gravel. This gravel covers the drain and also acts as a leveling surface for the concrete sidewalk scraps. If it hasn’t been mentioned yet, the final ground surface in the Cooling Porch will be a mosaic of reclaimed concrete sidewalk scraps. These scraps come from a newly replaced walkway in Newbern and will act almost as flagstones.
In order to create this mosaic, the crew labeled and documented the exact size of every piece of sidewalk scrap. They took photographs of the each sidewalk piece with a ruler on top. Next, they sized each one proportionally in the 3D modeling software, Sketchup, where they placed pieces within the cooling porch walls. Afterwards, out on-site, the team laid out all of the sidewalk scraps and prepared to place them in the Cooling Porch.
Finally, one of the three big lifts to erect the SIPs structures is complete! Before Shane of Sweetwater Construction LLC could lift the Test Building floors and walkway into place, the team had to assemble the SIPs. Each floor is comprised of three SIPs panels, two embedded LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beams, and 2′ x 12′ lumber to cap the ends. The embedded beams allow for the cantilever from the 4 columns.
Underneath the Fabrication Pavillion, the team lifted the SIPs atop the gooseneck trailer where they assembled the different parts and pieces. The embedded beams are coated with SIP seal which ensures a waterproof joint. They are also nailed to the panels. The 2′ x 12′ caps have attached joist hangers to accept the LVL beams.
With both floors complete, it was time to lift! Shane with the crane pulled the gooseneck trailer down AL Highway 61 to the other side of Morrisette Campus. On-site, in place, and ready to lift, take a look at the process below!
The whole process took only 4 hours, but many, many months of prep work and design. Stay tuned to see the TMBV test building go up just a fast and hopefully just as smooth!
Live from within the newly completed Cooling Porch retaining walls, it’s the Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research project team! We’ll take you through the evolution of both north and south wall and all the earthwork in between. If you stay tuned ’till the end you’ll see Cory’s latest artistic venture; a short film titled, “Le Grevier.”
North Wall: Complete!
After laying and leveling the dry-stacked concrete highway barriers, the team backfilled gravel and earth against the wall. Directly behind the walls are drains that are wrapped in landscape fabric and covered with gravel. This protects the drains from getting clogged with Hale County Clay. Behind the gravel, the team piled and compacted earth. They are reusing the dirt excavated for the building foundations. This process repeats for each course, refilling the initial dig. The Cooling Porch is still a hole in the ground, but it’s becoming a far more precise hole in the ground.
Voila! The joints, pattern, color, and textures of the north wall turned out fantastic. The team was astonished by the uniformity of the wall and the blending of the different blocks despite using reclaimed materials. On to the south wall!
South Wall: Complete!
The process of constructing the south wall was essentially the same as the north wall. Small concrete footings were poured wherever the retaining wall went off the building foundations. The team also completed the installation of the drainage. The space began to form right in front of their eyes!
The team feels the space looks exactly as they drew it–which is both slightly surprising and super satisfying. All the measuring, drafting, and double-checking produced a beautiful pit. And, bonus, the reuse of materials is a surefire way to build with the environment in mind and luckily these concrete highway barriers turned out to be the perfect durable, stackable material. The backfill and dug-out stairs makes getting around site a whole lot easier. It’s all coming together!
Thanks for following the progress of the soon-to-be chilly demonstration space! Stay tuned for SIPs construction and laying the ground surface in the Cooling Porch. Now, for your enjoyment, follow the life of a scoop of gravel in Cory’s feature film, “Le Grevier.”
Le Grevier: Directed by Cory Subasic starring Wheelbarrow, Shovel, Bobcat, and Gravel with a special appearance by Livia Barrett as “Gravel Girl.”