Rural Studio: Alabama
At the beginning of October, I was part of a team of JAS builders given the opportunity to collaborate with Auburn University’s Rural Studio to construct one of their 20k projects. Thoughtfully designed and built by students, these structures become homes for struggling individuals and families within the community. Thus, for sixteen days, we immersed ourselves in the town of Newbern, Alabama to build, teach and demonstrate professional practices and methods integral to the construction of a stick-framed house.
The Rural Studio provided the design and drawings of the project, tools, materials and perfectly poured pier foundations ready for us to build. The construction crew, which composed of Ryan Zamora, Tim Strange (first week), Greg Porter (second week), Jake LaBarre of Miller | Hull (former JAS carpenter) and myself, was suitably set up for success.
We leapt into full build-mode a day early and immediately validated our presence there and the reason behind the 2,556 mile trek from the Upper-Left Coast to the observing Studio audience.
The cohesion of our team was evident as we maneuvered efficiently across the site gauging, measuring, cutting and nailing each piece of lumber as if the wood was cultivated for that particular purpose. In the end, a house with metal roof, siding and windows stood after twelve very hot and productive construction days.
I felt a great sense of pride to be part of a veteran group of builders that demonstrated every bit of the combined 55+ years of building wisdom. But even further, I’m honored to have been offered the opportunity to partake in this fantastic educational experience as both a teacher and student at the Rural Studio. To walk on both sides of the student-teacher line continues to be humbling and is a reminder that there’s always more to learn. This place, as Jake described to me, truly is magical.
Andrew Freear, Director of The Rural Studio, was interviewed after we left Alabama. You can view his interview here – https://vimeo.com/146171438