The Rural Studio


RURAL STUDIO, 1993, Auburn University, School of Architecture. Samuel Mockbee and D. K. Ruth cofounded the program (..) The Rural Studio emerged in the midst of a period when critiques of the symbiosis between modernist architectural production and footloose international capital had led to a rejuvenation of interest in vernacular architecture (…) In his writings and teachings, Mockbee outlined his vision of a participatory architecture engaged in its form and practice with locality and people, with strategies built on an implicit rejection of prevailing models of ‘‘American architecture [that] had retreated from social and civic engagement to a preoccupation with matters of style’.

The work of the Rural Studio reveals the contingent, dependent, and constrained position of architectural production in those contexts where crises generated by other
parts of social formations (be they economic, environmental, or political) are negotiated by architects.



Paul Jones & Kenton Card (2011) Constructing “Social Architecture”: The Politics of Representing Practice, Architectural Theory Review, 16:3, 228-244, DOI: 10.1080/13264826.2011.621543

Image (above) and following text is retrieved from the School’s site:

Rural Studio is an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University.

Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University. The program, established in 1993 by D.K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee, gives architecture students a more hands-on educational experience while assisting an underserved population in West Alabama’s Black Belt region. In its initial years, the Studio became known for establishing an ethos of recycling, reusing and remaking. In 2001, after the passing of Samuel Mockbee, Andrew Freear succeeded him as director. Since that time, Rural Studio has expanded the scope and complexity of its projects, focusing largely on community-oriented work.

The Rural Studio philosophy suggests that everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good design. To fulfill this ethic, the Studio has evolved towards more community-oriented projects. Projects have become multi-year, multi-phase efforts traveling across three counties. The students work within the community to define solutions, fundraise, design and, ultimately, build remarkable projects. The Studio continually questions what should be built, rather than what can be built, both for the performance and operation of the projects. To date, Rural Studio has built more than 170 projects and educated more than 800 “Citizen Architects.”


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