rural studio

'rural studio' is an architectural program run by auburn university in south west alabama.  the program works to teach social and environmental responsibility to students of architecture-- students are asked to design affordable housing and then BUILD IT themselves.

rural studio was started in 1994 by auburn professors samuel mockbee and dennis ruth as a way to address the inequity in rural southern housing-- poor and working class (primarily black) people were (and are) living in shacks and trailers-- homes that are especially vulnerable to climate and weather-- without real possibility of getting loans--no matter their employment history-- for better housing.   students in the program design and build affordable, sustainable, and BEAUTIFUL houses.  by using both found and very simple materials in creative ways, AND by using their own labor, students find ways of building gorgeous family homes inexpensively.  the use of the building, the lifestyle of the inhabitants, and the land the building is on-- all become primary in importance.

since mockbee's death in 2001 the studio has been directed by andrew freear-- who has shifted the focus of the program to larger community projects-- churches, community centers, etc-- still designed and built for poor and working class rural communities.

there is also an 'outreach program' designed for people working in the housing field-- the '$20,000 house project'.  students in the outreach program have been working since 2005 to design a house that will be approved by the USDA as a prototype for guaranteed loans and owner financing-- a house design that will bring jobs and affordable housing to many, many more people.  designing a house that has approximately $10,000 in materials and that costs approximately $10,000 in labor to build-- and yet meets the needs of the homeowners and is beautiful-- is not an easy task!

architecture for social change.


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