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. Cover image by Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Rural Studio.
architecture, accessibility, residential, rural studio, design-build
Newbern, AL, United States
Rural Studio Fall 2017
Auburn University, Studio V
Warm tones and natural light create a welcome atmosphere inside and out.
The muted material palette reflects the original tone of Ree's home and complements the brighter blue of her sister Geraldine's home.
The porch and the space between the homes were designed to reflect the sisters’ relationship. Photograph by Timothy Hursley, via Rural Studio.
Record of a Life
Hand-drawn graphite section of Ree's trailer, documenting her possessions and their use.
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, via Rural Studio.
Kit of Parts
Ree's home was constructed on a raised slab foundation and included a large porch with ramp access. This foundation ensured long-lasting stability, and the use of accessible materials and simple dimensions allowed for easy construction. The home is a variation on one of the 20K prototype home's pioneered at Rural Studio during earlier years.