Revitalizing the Rural





TITLE

Revitalizing the Rural


STUDENT   Jacob Eble
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


FACULTY SPONSOR  

Mark Stephen Taylor
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign



DESCRIPTION

The rural areas of our country make up 75 percent of our landmass but just 20 percent of our population. Taking a drive through these areas of our country it is clear to see their overall decline. Family farms and local downtowns that once thrived have since been abandoned.

New technologies in the agriculture industry allow for smaller groups of people to farm much greater quantities of land. This allowed for larger farms to monopolize the land and smaller farms to leave the industry altogether. Children who grew up in these rural towns were no longer able to stay at home and maintain a desirable quality of life working on family farms. Instead, they were forced to head to urban areas where they could find greater employment opportunities. Architects and designers have been drawn to focus on the urban areas of our country and how they can design for the mass populations that are entering our ever-expanding cities. However with 75 percent of our landmass remaining relatively unpopulated, designers should instead be solving the issues of how we can bring the population back to the rural and revitalize communities that have been in decline since the advent of highly mechanized farming methods. 

It was technology that ultimately led to the degradation of our rural communities and it is technology that we will bring these communities back. Workplaces of the future are shifting from physical to digital, creating less of a dependence on individuals to reside in our urban centers. Likewise, the rapid advancement in the transportation industry is shrinking the relationship between space and time.

As architects and designers, we can reimagine how our degraded farms and rural towns can be repurposed and adapted to fit into our ever-changing world. Grain silos, barns, and sheds that have been left to rot can be repurposed into rural hotels, workplaces, and organic farms. These rural areas can begin to have a greater presence in the hospitality market. Writers, musicians, and families seeking a peaceful and tranquil setting away from our hectic urban centers can look to our farm towns as a place to fulfill those needs.

Client: The client for the project is an individual who wishes to become a new pioneer in a rural community but is unable to due to a lack of economic opportunity and life quality sustainability. They will be seeking a home that is forward thinking but has a strong relationship with the local vernacular. The home must be budget conscious and also provide economic opportunities in order to allow for a stable income and way of life. A space dedicated as a digital workstation is a must, along with spaces that can be rented out to short or long stay visitors.




The Battery House





TITLE

The Battery House



STUDENTS   Homa Ansari, Anmol Kollegal, & Timothy Massa
University of Houston


FACULTY SPONSOR  

Zui Ng
University of Houston



DESCRIPTION

After a natural disaster, neighborhoods are fragmented and left in a lurch. For the victims, the foremost thing is getting back to their homes at the earliest and start re-building on their lost. The Battery House aims at being a self-sustaining prototype that can facilitate onsite rehabilitation as well as be used as a back-up battery to support the vernacular.

The project is housed in the historic districts of Galveston Island, in Texas. The island city has well defined historic neighborhoods with distinctive vernacular house typologies which are getting degraded at a rapid pace due to its unpredictable weather and high proximity to natural disaster. The Battery House aims to correct the vast difference in the number of abandoned vernacular homes to the ones being renovated per year.

The prototype serves as a base that can be applied to the most common vernacular housing typologies. Limitations of the rear exterior, Galveston Historic guidelines, and the commonalities found within these typologies are utilized to merge the prototype with the vernacular, in an act to preserve, restore, rehabilitate and reconstruct on site.

The Battery House, upon arrival is 120 ft2 and contains the most essential spaces of a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. This small footprint, along with back alley access, leaves recently affected victims with an easy acquirement, distribution, and deployment process. After deployment, the Battery House square footage will double in size, 240 ft2, by adopting space from the existing vernacular homes interior. This process of increasing space will allow the Battery House to add a bedroom, and living area to the overall layout. The increasing of space will expand throughout the vernacular home as the rehabilitation process takes place, blending the Battery House into the vernacular and forming one single entity.

Construction

The shell is a lightweight cage structure made up of multiple layers of steel mesh. Inside this cage, is a system of sliding walls integrated with HVAC and electrical power. The rigidity of the exterior and the flexibility of the interior is what makes the battery house satisfy its functional and practical requirements. The foundation is a system of metal bars sliding outwards to anchor the structure into the ground at various heights to counter the uneven topography.

Ecology

The Battery House is equipped with amenities and features to sustain a 72-hour disaster period independently. Solar orbs, 5-inch diameter, are laid in-between the steel mesh surfaces and affixed to the same sliding metal bars as the foundation support technology. The sloped shed roof beneath the solar orbs redirects the harvested rain water into water tanks that are integrated into the bottom of the cage structure in-between floor joists.

Community

The shear flexibility of the battery house serves the community at large. A LED lit façade creates security and comfort at night for residents. As the most essential needs of a kitchen and a bathroom are provided, the unit can also be used as an outdoor community kitchen, thereby encouraging disaster victims to work together towards rebuilding their community.