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, which raised 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


Emil​y McGlohn




Auburn University, Studio V



Rural Studio: Ree's Home

Material Board

Early studies in section and elevation. Originally graphite on trace measuring 12" x 36" each.

Urban Artery

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.

Materials and techniques were implemented which mature over time.


The steel volumes of the studios frame one end of the park, while city mills holds the other edge.


Mystery is prioritized over views to the interior. The skin is pulled back or punctured in a handful of moments to permit daylight.


Mediating Knuckle

The studios project into the river, providing a node around which visitors can gather. The overhang provides protection and the launch engages the river.



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.



A gallery for both creation and art produced in and on the building. A display case for craft and patina.

Music Studio

Pairing acoustic and visual reflection. The pool serves as a privacy barrier between performers and walkers.

Perpendicular and Parallel

The Columbus Riverwalk passes between the studio volumes, above the Chattahoochee River access and below the studio axes. 

© 2023 by Henry Savoie

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