Rose Hill Drive Studio

Project Description

The Rose Hill Studio project was designed to facilitate collaboration and interaction between designers and fabricators and their clients, in a welcoming workspace. Previously occupied by a private investigator- the building was hidden in plain sight on a busy Charlottesville thoroughfare. The concrete block and brick building, with low ceilings and a dearth of natural light posed significant design challenges for the new owners given their desire for an open, airy space with lots of natural light and a visually memorable exterior. The design team used the challenging conditions as an opportunity to show how a small budget and an abundance of creativity can transform an uninteresting space into something unforgettable.

The design needed to accommodate a variety of spaces, including a universally accessible design studio, a versatile workshop space to allow easy access to power tools and stored building materials, a conference room, a kitchenette, and a band practice room. All of these uses needed to be housed within a relatively small 1700 square foot space.

The project became a testing ground for material experiments, sustainable technologies, cost effective building techniques, and spatial flexibility. The design team used and re-used a variety of building materials throughout the space. Homasote was used in various ways; woven on the ceiling to provide sound absorption in the band practice space, stacked for pin-able desk partitions, and planed to create a soft pin-able wall surface in the studio.

By the simple operations of cutting, rotating, and re-assembling, the design team transformed corrugated metal, an industrial material, into a herringbone fabric-like surface. For the conference room and entryway, salvaged wood from an old barn interspersed with accents of corrugated metal, functions as a rugged yet refined lining.

In addition to using recycled and reclaimed materials in the project, the design team employed various other sustainable building techniques and technologies. Due to the addition of a 3 1/2” layer of insulation to the building envelope, heat for the building is almost entirely provided by a small wood stove. Lights in the office are rarely turned on during the day because of the installation of six sun tubes in the studio, shop, and bathroom, as well as a large skylight in the conference room. The project also incorporates bike racks and a shower to encourage bike commuting. A vegetable garden fed by multiple rain barrels supplement the office staff’s lunchtime fare with zucchini, strawberries, tomatoes, and fresh figs.


Andy Franck Photography