Field trip to the farmers market (built by Studio H year 1)
On Friday, we loaded up the Bertie County Schools activity bus (here’s where Matt’s school bus driver’s license comes in especially handy) and took a field trip 5 miles down the road to the Windsor Super Market, the farmers market structure designed and built by our Studio H students last year. We thought it would be a good precedent to examine as our current students move from the design phase to the build phase of their own farmstand structures for around the county.
Matt walked students through the structure, touching on a few highlights: the height of the building for ventilation and “grandeur,” the structural requirements in the hurricane and flood zone, the locally sourced materials, the design of the rear vendor entry as loading dock, the slope of the pedestrian access ramp, code requirements for hardware used, and more. Students had great questions that almost all started with “Why…..?”
We talk a lot about being deliberate about design, and we ask students not to make design decisions merely for form or merely for function, but to think through why a solution is smart. Last year, for example, we were forced to build the structure at three feet above base flood elevation, which is not ideal, as it means the deck of the building must be high and thus posits certain access requirements that can result in higher construction costs. However, last year’s students saw this as an opportunity for vendors, many of whom load up their goods in the back of their pick-up trucks. The truck beds were at roughly the same height as required deck height, so the rear of the building acted perfectly as a loading spot in which vendors could unload their goods directly into their own booth. On the front side, the slope of the site created some challenges for pouring the foundation, but also led students to the very smart decision to set the pedestrian path into the ground to follow the slope of the site, rather than be a freestanding and less “natural” structure.
After our discussion, we asked students to spread out and draw the building from afar, from within, as an object, and in detail. Since we have learned how to do both gestural drawings (quick sketches of something’s “essence”) and also diagrams (of light, ventilation, circulation, siting, etc), students had multiple tools at their disposal to best interpret the building in two dimensions.
Seeing this full-scale piece of architecture will hopefully provide some inspiration for this year’s students as they move forward with their own designs. We want our students to see their design and architectural work as deliberate, response to a context, and a representation of their own vision, and the farmers market from last year’s students certainly stands as a good example of all three.