Ree's Home.

Cover images by Timothy Hursley.

Front Porch Initiative


This home was designed and built for Ree Zinnerman by Rural Studio in Newbern, Alabama. The 680 square foot residence was designed to recreate and enhance Ree’s favorite memories from her old home and her connection to her family. Ree has lived on family land next door to her sister Geraldine, another recipient of a Rural Studio home, for over 44 years. The porch and the space between the homes were designed to reflect the sisters’ relationship. Constructing the house on an elevated slab protects Ree from flooding, provides an integrated and defined porch and insulates the interior of the home from below. The home was a team project, designed and constructed by two student teams over eight months. 

The research, design, and construction spanned two semesters. The first semester students focused on preliminary research, design, communication with the client, construction of the foundation, porch, framing, and plumbing. The second-semester students worked on the roof system, skin, internal systems, finishing, and landscaping. The construction documents and details were designed and shared by both teams. An existing Rural Studio product line home, Joanne’s Home, was used as a starting point for the base drawings. Working off of an existing model allowed the teams to focus on improving details, meeting client requirements, and careful construction. Five weeks of research, client meetings, and documentation
preceded the initial design. Ree’s original home, a 44-year-old trailer, was photographed, drawn, measured, and cataloged, along with all of her furniture and belongings. While all students participated in the design and construction, additional tasks were divided between student teams. My contribution occurred during the first semester. In addition to helping with design and construction, I planned, advertised, and hosted a benefit night at The Bean coffee shop in Auburn, AL, which raised the money to buy a new washer and dryer for Ree.


architecture, accessibility, residential, rural studio, design-build


Newbern, AL, United States


680 ft²


Fall 2017


Rural Studio Fall 2017


Auburn University, Studio V


External Website

Rural Studio: Ree's Home

Warm tones and natural light create a welcome atmosphere inside and out.

Material Palette

The muted material palette reflects the original tone of Ree's home and complements the brighter blue of her sister Geraldine's home.


Sister Homes

The project frames the entry to the park, and its forms are replicated across the landscape. It is mirrored by the repurposed City Mills buildings to the North.


Material Palette

The muted material palette reflects the original tone of Ree's home and complements the brighter blue of her sister Geraldine's home.


Front Porch (Top)

The orientation, design, and scale of Ree's home centered around the front porch. Ree and her sister Geraldine have shared morning and evenings sitting on Ree's porch for decades, and her new home accommodates that family connection. Photograph by Timothy Hursley.

2017 Team (Bottom)

Kyle Anderson

Livia Barret

Ashley Bucher

Regan Eiland

Andrew Frese

Zoey Gerstner

Will Hall

Hayley Hendrick

Kevin Jeon

Conner Quinn

Marlyn Rivera

Henry Savoie

Jonathan Schneider

Kyra Stark

Cory Subasic

Lauren Wertz

2018 Team

Nicole Brown

Zak Channell

Xuerui Chen

Elizabeth Clark

Ying Dong

Ryan Kolowich

Sarah Livings

Camron Lynch

Dana McFarland

Rowe Price

Owen Railey

Jake Schirmer

Emily Shirah

Preston Smith

Ingrid Stahl

Conner Tomasello




The material palette is limited in scope but rich in texture. The manner in which deposits accrue and mark surrounding materials were tested in the material tested described in the previous section. This reduction in palette places emphasis on the imperfections and weathering patterns that emerge over time.