Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rural Studio/ Citizen Architect


I was looking at the Rural Studio website earlier to check out the progress on the 2009-2010 thesis projects. As usual, some really interesting stuff is going on there. One group is creating an amazing playscape for Lion's Park; another group is renovating and adding to the Safe House Black Historic Museum in Greensboro; and the third group has been experimenting with thinnings, the tree bits produced from thinning out forests, to create a bridge at Payne Lake. I can't wait to visit the finished projects.

For those who don't know, Rural Studio is a branch of Auburn University's School of Architecture. It is located in Hale County, Alabama, one of the most impoverished counties in the United States. The program was brought to life in 1993 by two Auburn professors, Samuel Mockbee and D.K. Ruth. Sadly, both have since passed away. Mockbee and Ruth wanted to educate architecture students in the design/build practice while improving the living conditions for people in the Hale County area. Architecture for everyone. It is a strange and amazing thing to drive down a dirt road in what feels like the middle-of-nowhere, to pass run-down wooden shacks and rusted, abandoned cars, and then to suddenly come upon these.

The Butterfly House and The Lucy House

One of the reasons my mind was on Rural Studio today is because the film Citizen Architect aired on PBS last night. Sadly it wasn't on in my area, so I'll have to wait a bit to see it. The documentary is about Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio. It looks to have many interviews with people related to the Rural Studio, lots of footage of the projects, and interviews with Mockbee. Keep an eye out for it on your TV guide.

Also located in Hale County are Hero and PieLab, two great organizations making a difference in the town of Greensboro. Check out their websites too.

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