The Rural Studio is a design-build architecture studio run by Auburn University. It aims to teach students about the social responsibilities of the profession of architecture while also providing safe, well-constructed and inspirational homes and buildings for poor communities in rural west Alabama, part of the so-called "Black Belt".
The studio was founded in 1993 by architects Samuel Mockbee and D. K. Ruth. It is led by UK-born architect Andrew Freear. Each year the program builds several projects - a house by the third-year students and two to three thesis projects by groups of 3-5 fifth-year students. The Rural Studio has built more than 80 houses and civic projects in Hale, Perry and Marengo counties. The Rural Studio is based in Newbern, a small town in Hale County. Many of its best-known projects are in the tiny community of Mason's Bend, on the banks of the Black Warrior River.
The studio has been criticized for the way its projects take advantage of the power relations inherent in gift-giving and for mistaking elitist architectural and middle-class values, rather than the process of political emancipation and self-determination, as a way to improve the lives of the poor.
The $20K House is an ongoing research project at the Rural Studio that seeks to address the pressing need for decent and affordable housing in Hale County, Alabama. Nearly 30% of individuals in Hale County live in poverty. Due to the lack of conventional cr for people with this level of income, and insufficient knowledge about alternative sources of funding, mobile homes offer the only chance for home ownership for many. Unlike a house, which is an asset for its owner, trailers deteriorate very quickly and depreciate over time. Mobile homes are also linked with higher cancer rates due to the use of formaldehyde in their construction.
The $20k House project intends to produce a model home that could be reproduced on a large scale, and thereby become a viable alternative to the mobile home in this area. The challenge is to build a house for $20,000, ten to twelve thousand of which will go towards materials and the remainder to contracted labor. Once a truly successful model has been designed, the aim is to sell the houses in conjunction with the "502 Direct Loan" provided by the Rural Housing Service. The project began in 2005, and there have been 16 iterations of the house so far.
Anna Marie Bevil, Jason Blankenship, Brittany Creehan, Jacob Fyfe, Brittany Graeber, Jennifer Isenburg, Carrie Laurendine, Jonathan Mayhall, Don Mott, Brandon Rainosek, Haley Robinson, Christopher Terrell, Marcus Buckner-Perry, Justyn Chandler, Michelle Clark, Taylor Clark, Evan Dick, Lori Fine, Robert Hall, Drew Jerdan, Brett Randall Jones, Ben Krauss, Carolyn Norton, John Plaster, Dorothy Sherling, Casey Smith, Kathleen Webb, Terran Wilson
Perry Lakes Canopy Tower
Adrienne Brady, Natalie Butts, Paul Howard, Coley Mulcahy
Perry County Learning Center
Dereck Aplin, Sam Currie, Amy Bell, Angela Hughey, Turnley Smith
William Austin, Clifford Brooks, Kristen Kepner Coleman, Joshua Daniel, Adam Gerndt, Jo Beth Gleason, Jeremy Moffet, Justin Patwin, Hunter Simmons, Elizabeth Stallworth, Samuel Watkins, William Whittaker Jr., Heather Wootten, Jeff Marteski, Timothy Sliger, Robert Sproull, Tommy Replogle, Jon Schumann, John Ritchie, Charlie Hughes, Jimmy Turner, Jeff Johnston,
H.E.R.O. Playscape, Joe Alcock and Melissa Teng Greensboro