The isolation of early settlers to the Appalachian Mountains fostered a pioneer spirit in those who established self-sustaining living/working compounds on the frontier. Appalachian State University’s Solar Homestead fused these values into a net-zero energy home, which remained true to these underlying principles by integrating renewable resources and innovative technology into a prototype that was adaptable, self-sufficient, rugged, affordable, Appalachian State University’s entry to the Solar Decathlon 2011 won the coveted People’s Choice Award.
Envisioned as a response to the common FEMA trailers used for housing after natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the ASU-E3 House is a prototypical dwelling designed and constructed for use in remote or disaster relief situations where electricity and access to public sanitation are unavailable. Unlike most compact and transportable shelters, the ASU-E3 House is self-sufficient, adaptable to a variety of environmental, contextual and cultural situations. Using a hybridization of modular and local construction techniques to create an energy-efficient envelope, it serves as a high performance, independent machine for living.
This studio was asked to design and build an outdoor classroom that could double as storage for gardening tools, a tractor, and implements during the winter months for students and faculty in the Sustainable Development Program. The historic Blackburn farm, a living learning community for researchers and students in Ashe County, served as a backdrop for the scavenged, vernacular building that explores recycled materials and indigenous resources.
Powered by the sun using a photovoltaic system, the Valle Crucis Park Mobile Performance Stage focused on the concept of “transformation” through its mobility within the park based upon various event needs and the threat of flooding. Set within the vernacular architecture and fragile floodplains of the Valle Crucis community, this project explored how architecture can be more than a static object while adapting to its rural and historic context.
A 3.3 acre tract of land had been selected by Valley Crucis Community Park and Appalachian State University to be the location for the Welcome and Environmental Education Center. As part of the IDEXlab, eight senior students led the design and construction of this structure. On March 26th, ground was broken for the Welcome Center, which includes a reception area and office, public restrooms, and indoor meeting/event space.
Sparta North Carolina takes pride in its farmers, and before the IDEXlab they needed a home for their farmers market. Partnering with Appalachian State University, the town of Sparta commissioned the project to undergo design and then construction. In 2015, the Allaghany Farmer’s Market reached completion and now runs every Saturday for the community to come out and buy fresh produce directly from the farmers themselves.
This modern interpretation of the poultry coop typology focused on two primary areas. First, it needed to be as comfortable and useful as possible for eight hens. Second, it had to be self-sufficient enough to accommodate the amateur human in charge. All of the construction materials were salvaged, including old doors and windows used for access and ventilation.
A Coonhound named “Skeeter” – steward of a small organic farm – needed a dwelling to accommodate his modest way of life. As a response to his needs and non-existent budget, this design-build project was constructed with only scrap materials and fasteners that were mostly salvaged from part of a dilapidated children’s swing set and metal roofing cut offs. Mimicking the celebrated dogtrot house typology, the canine dwelling has a two-sided entry that can act as a porch as well. Separated by a single partition wall, one side is the living/sleeping area while the end is the kitchen/dining area and provides a protected area for food and water.
Converted from a rental duplex back to a single-family home, this budget-minded design/build renovation, originally built in 1902 and renovated in 2005, attempts to take the difficult task of restoring an old farmhouse back to its initial character while providing a fresh overlay; it is a celebration of the year of creation and re-creation of the house that deletes the years in between. And to further celebrate the separation of time between the new and old construction, gaps and slippages are a detail used repetitively throughout the project to provide a reminder of the years deleted.
This project took an old, dilapidated shed and reimagined it into something larger and more useful. By incorporating leftover roofing tin and lumber from a house renovation on the same property, the (re)Shed increased the building's footprint while also extending the eave of the shed roof to provide protection for a sliding door and clerestory for natural lighting inside.
With the current assault on the rural landscape by suburban sprawl and the virtual disappearance of traditional homesteads, one must ask the question: will future generations ever be able to experience and understand this once common place of habitation and the way of life it facilitated? This research project documents the buildings and structures on both the Blackburn and Vannoy Farms, owned by Appalachian State University, in order to provide a visual narrative of the built environment that once supported sustainable living. The narrative is conveyed through architectural drawings and illustrations created from extensive building research.