Fine architecture is usually reserved for wealthy patrons or grand civic spaces. But in 1993, Auburn University Professor Samuel Mockbee set out to change that. He founded The Rural Studio, which guides students in the design and construction of homes and community spaces in economically depressed Hale County, Alabama.
Here is some of the Mockbee’s good thinking:
“The professional challenge, whether one is an architect in the rural American South or elsewhere in the world, is how to avoid being so stunned by the power of modern technology and economic affluence that one does not lose sight of the fact that people and place matter….
For me, these small (Rural Studio) projects have in them the architectural essence to enchant us, to inspire us, and ultimately, to elevate our profession. But more importantly, they remind us of what it means to have an American architecture without pretense. They remind us that we can be as awed by the simple as by the complex and that if we pay attention, this will offer us a glimpse into what is essential to the future of American Architecture: Its honesty. ‘ Love your neighbor as yourself.’
This is the most important thing because nothing else matters. In doing so, an architect will act on a foundation of decency which can be built upon. Go above and beyond the call of a ‘smoothly functioning conscience’; help those who aren’t likely to help you in return, and do so even if nobody is watching!‘