rural studio #3: mason’s bend housing

March 18, 2008 at 6:03 am 4 comments

When I got to Mason’s Bend (after a long, bumpy dirt road trip) I was taken back by the poverty and lifestyle of the community.

Hay bale house:


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The Bryant House (Hay Bale) was built for Shepard and Alberta Bryant, and their two grandchildren. The 24-inch thick walls are stacked hay bales and are stuccoed over with concrete, providing excellent, natural, and inexpensive insulation.
One wood-burning stove heats the entire structure, and the house remains cool throughout the summer due to the natural ventilation provided by awning windows in the front of the house. The house has a large front porch, covered with an acrylic roof. The family spends much of their summer on the front porch which is evident by the amount of belongings and appliances placed on it.

Lucy’s Carpet Tile House:


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I was very excited to see this house as I heard that Lucy the owner loves visitors and often invites people with cameras in to see her home. She is so proud that her own home is completely unique. Unfortunately I did not run into Lucy but I did explore the perimeter of the house. The project is made of otherwise non-recyclable carpet tiles transforming them into a single family home. The 72,000 stacked tiles are held in compression by a heavy wooden ring-beam. They are so compact that water has yet to penetrate them and they do not burn b/c no oxygen can enter. I scaled my fingers down the wall and it felt like striated stone. The tower contains the parent’s bedroom, which has an open view to the sky with a family room that doubles as a storm shelter (requested by Lucy).

Christine’s House of dirt and newspaper:

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This house was a second year studio project. The students that gave me a tour (now thesis students) actually made the brick used. I enjoyed listening to them describe the process of filling a trash can with cardboard, hale county clay, and Portland cement and mixing it together with a stick to make the mixture. They then poured the mix into cardboard donated by a local grocery to get the form. As sustainable process as is gets. If only they could have found a way to use the forms to make the next brick. As you can imagine there was not much integrity left of the boxes after they were peeled from the bricks.

Willie Bell House:


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Although not as widely known as the Hay bale or the carpet tile house, this home is very nice. There are two porches opening up the house to the site and the outdoor living that is so prevalent in this area. The house does not sit on the site as intended because the clients wanted the bricks around the base. I wish I could have seen it pre-brick base as they described it. You can begin to see it the the studios photographs (the smaller two). I really love the skin of this one.

The Butterfly House:


The skin of the Butterfly House allows the main living spaces to function as a porch. After all porch sitting is a telling sign of the area. I didn’t get to get very close to this one but it looks like it gives a great view to the sky. I love the expressed drain that extends outward in the fold of the roof. Notice how the owners have used it to hang flowers.

This community takes what they are given and make it their own. They are able to take pride in the unique homes that they own and the community in which they exist.

+ flickr set
Related Posts:
Rural Studio #1
Rural Studio #2

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Entry filed under: architecture. Tags: , , , , , , .

building block typeface paper art by peter callesen

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. michele morgan  |  March 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    It just goes to show you if you use your brain first, you can do anything. I studies ecology in school and the subject was on sustainable architecture. I enjoyed that class more that I could imagine. I visited a site where I found huts built out out long tubes of mud. This is where I met directly with the very famous architect/author Nader Khalili.

    California architect/author is the world renowned Iranian-American Earth Architecture teacher and innovator of the Geltaftan Earth-and-Fire System known as Ceramic Houses, and of the Superblock construction system.

    It was the most amazing thing. The homes were set in the desert of Hesperia. Inside, was the most tranquil feeling I’ve ever felt on a dirt floor. It was also very cool. The great thing about all of this, is anyone can be taught how to build this. Kahil teaches a course right there in Hesperia. You can upgrade from a mud hut to having a heating, cooking and air system.
    If we had a major disaster, we could all survive and probably live very well — off the land or mud shall we say.


  • […] 20, 2008 The last Rural Studio post introduced you to some houses in Mason’s Bend but the students also built a community center/ […]

  • 3. cheritycall  |  October 27, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    How are you?, Do something to help those hungry people from Africa or India,
    I created this blog about that subject:

  • 4. SIMON  |  December 28, 2008 at 7:59 am



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