Help me find: Novel, building method developed at southern U.S. College
June 26, 2021 10:49 AM   Subscribe

At least 10 years ago, I read about a novel home building method that was developed as part of a hands-on college course. I think this was at a southern U.S. college, I don't recall a lot about it, but I remember the course instructor saying that many building inspectors were unfamiliar with the construction methods, and that they needed to be explained in a way that made sense.

Also, importantly, construction costs using their methods are much lower than traditional building.

Last I read, they were trying to refine methods and ultimately offer guidelines and plans so others could build using their methods.

I know that's not a lot to go on, but I wonder if someone remembers this project.
posted by 4midori to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Maybe it was something from the Auburn University Rural Studio?
posted by aramaic at 10:58 AM on June 26, 2021 [9 favorites]

Another vote for the Rural Studio. It doesn't fit you description exactly, but almost.
posted by mumimor at 11:09 AM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

The first thing that comes to mind is indeed Rural Studio, specifically cardboard-bale structures.
posted by niicholas at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also something about Rural Studio's building on pilings, I have a vague recollection? This and other details or innovations are in varuous of the specific project descriptions from their 20K projects.
posted by eviemath at 11:20 AM on June 26, 2021

(More details too on the page for their Front Porch Initiative)
posted by eviemath at 11:21 AM on June 26, 2021

Could it have been in the Southwest US? There have been a lot of different building methods tried, and most of them would fit the description of "building inspectors unfamiliar with the construction methods" (pretty much by definition, new construction methods are not going to be familiar.

The description you gave would probably fit any number of construction methods, but the most famous would be Earthships. is not a college, but they have been around long enough that I would expect Taos community college has had some classes covering them.

However, they were not developed as part of a hands-on college course... but I think developing an entirely new building method would be an awful lot to develop in a college course! (Unless you are talking about the individual who originated the idea initially being inspired in a college course) It's more likely you are looking for something that was already in development and might have had some new ideas come out of a hands on course.
posted by yohko at 1:13 PM on June 26, 2021

You might also recognize the method if you look around at alternative building methods. Many of these have lower materials costs but higher labor costs -- so whether the costs are lower in the end depends on the relative costs of these two things. If you can narrow down the method it will make finding where it has been taught much easier. Often these sorts of methods use either materials that can be locally grown (straw bale, sod), or produced out of materials in the local environment (adobe, and many other variants using other materials as binders), or make use of waste materials (earthbags, glass bottle walls, tires, cans, plastic bottles).

If you are looking for something where labor costs are lower, generally you will be looking at more manufactured building materials. Again, many different things out there.
posted by yohko at 1:22 PM on June 26, 2021

Not the sour then US, but Christopher Alexander and his team did some stuff at Oregon that was pretty widely reported. They wrote a book of their own, the name of which escapes me, based on Alexander’s A Pattern Language.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Rural Studio, it is!

I love MeFi, thank you all.
posted by 4midori at 3:25 PM on June 26, 2021

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