Co-founded in 1993 by Samul Mockbee and D.K. Ruth at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, the vision of Rural Studio was to transform the learning and practice of young architects and the lives of the wider community.

Because wellbeing is intrinsically linked to the built environment, the architect will need to acknowledge their social role as engaged participants with the community in its provision. More than a quarter of the population in Hale County are below the poverty line.

The first house built by Rural Studio in 1994 was for Shepherd and Alberta Bryant who had been taking care of their three grandchildren in an unheated shack with no plumbing. The house was constructed using donated hay bales for walls and later houses would also use donated, salvaged or recycled materials.

In 2005 Rural Studio began the $20k housing project where students worked with the community to create alternative prototypes to the ubiquitous trailer homes. $20k is the maximum mortgage for an individual who receives the median Social Security cheque of $75.

Rural Studio are now also building public buildings which embody civic wellbeing such as a library and fire station, which was the first public building in the community for 110 years.

Location: United States

Credit:  Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Alabama

Images: Tim Hursley