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Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1568982922
ISBN-10: 1568982925
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The genius of an architect who made beautiful and functional homes out of inexpensive materials is celebrated in Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency. The book showcases work Mockbee (1944-2002) undertook in Hale County, Ala., where he recruited architecture students to help design and build free homes for impoverished residents. Andrea Oppenheimer Dean, a former executive editor at Architecture magazine, and photographer Timothy Hursley, an architectural photographer who has been documenting Rural Studio for nine years, present 132 color and 12 b&w photos of the warm, modern homes (which often incorporate recycled and natural materials like tires and hay bales) and discuss them with Mockbee, his students and the home owners. The work has been featured on Oprah, Nightline, CBS News and in Time and People.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This book is a revelation. It displays, for the first time in book form, the accomplishments of one of the most celebrated architectural studios in America, the Rural Studio, led by Samuel Mockbee of the Auburn University School of Architecture. Mockbee ran this studio for ten years until his tragic death from leukemia last year at the age of 57, a year after winning a MacArthur genius award. His students and associates created some of the most interesting and innovative architecture in the United States by serving the humblest needs of some of the poorest people in the most neglected counties of Alabama and Mississippi. About a dozen houses, churches, playgrounds, pavilions, and community centers are represented here in elegant photographs by Hursley, the unofficial photographer of the studio, and in concentrated prose by Dean, a former executive editor of Architecture magazine. The book includes descriptions of each project, interviews with students and clients, instructive essays on key topics, and a complete bibliography of the Rural Studio. Recommended to studio art as well as architecture programs. Peter Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 185 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568982925
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568982922
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have been an admirer of the work of the Rural Studio from the start and couldn't wait to get this book... The photos are beautiful and touching, but the book is lacking in drawings (i.e. plans) and text. I was hoping for more about the thoughts and processes that students put into the designs, the role of Sam Mockbee in it all, and some architectural drawings that would more comprehensively showcase the projects
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Format: Paperback
As an architecture student, each reading of this book reminds me why I got into archiecture in the first place; that architecture at its best is ingeneous and beautiful; that architecture is as relevant as its practicioners make it; that there is a greater good to be adressed by all in the field; that shelter is architecture's raison d'etre; that there are more important things in the architectural world than the latest Prada opening.
As a human, it reminds me how to live and create well.
You don't get that from your average architecture book, do ya?
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Format: Paperback
In this stunning book the reader is taken to the most impoverished areas of Alabama and witnesses an astounding change in the architectural landscape. Homes that were once inhabitable shacks have been transformed into aesthetic buildings that have been transformed into true homes. Samuel Mockbee, his students, and his organization "Rural Studio" have made this transformation possible.
Rural Studio is a picturesque story of social consciousness taking place through the vehicle of architecture. Mockbee believes in making a difference in the lives of poor people who are in substandard housing. Alternative materials ( such as corrugated cardboard) and the recycling of cast off wood, tin, windshields and other unusual resources are used for construction at an affordable price.
I enjoyed the philosophy that Mockbee instills in his students not by preaching but by having them engage with their clients. His students learn that poor people are like people anywhere with their hopes and dreams. In listening to their clients his students learn how to build functional structures for them that meets the needs of the clients. I was overwhelmed by the before and after pictures of their various projects and was impressed with the use of alternative materials for insulation and windows.
Rural Studio is indeed doing good work and its founder and students are to be commended for their commitment to social change. I must admit that I also have some misgivings about the work. Mockbee's students (at least the ones portrayed in the book) are white upper to middle-class students of architecture who are helping impoverished African-Americans. Why aren't there African-American students in his group? These good works have a smack of paternalism no matter how well intentioned.
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1 Comment 12 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Creative architecture doesn't have to be paved in gold. Mockbee and his students use basic materials in the most interesting ways for creating wonderful living, playing and meeting places for poor people out of former shacks or sometimes starting from scratch. I would love to see actual planned communities for the general public built in this style. I would live there! Very inspiring...
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By A Customer on July 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Rural Studio is the perfect antidote to corporate crime and mistrust. Here are a group of people giving their time, work, and money to help other people, and doing it in a way that not only helps the individuals and families they build for: They help the whole community. This should be required reading for architecture faculty and students -- and maybe should be given to a couple of hundred CEOs around the country. Fantastic book.
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Format: Paperback
Maybe the most important architectural idea since the series of pattern language treatises by Christopher Alexander. I think this is a must read for anyone involved with real estate development. Surely a model for New Orleans. I'm planning to take a trip and pay homage. Mr. Mockbee was a genius.
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Format: Paperback
In an age when pretentious architects with cynical and destructive design ideaologies (Eisenman, Libeskind, Morphosis, etc.)are wrongly celebrated as heroes or role models, Mockbee provided a quiet but valuable alternative. While the others focussed on generating controversy and notoriety, Mockbee pursued an architecture of beauty and moral purpose. His social and civil lesson is an important one to any young architecture seeking serious direction.
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Format: Paperback
this book shows what architecture on a practical level can emphasize - serving people in need and allowing them to live with dignity. what i enjoyed most about this book is that it brings architecture to a personal level, while some books can be only about the material and technical this book provides stories about the professors behind the project, students engaged in it, the people they serve and how and why each specific structure was needed and how it suited and filled an important need. though some of the pieces seemed a bit "out there" and not exactly conventional in comparison to a deeply rural and poverty stricken alabama town they give an example of a way to provide needed structures to disadvantaged people. it is heartening to read the interviews towards the end of the book, one of which is by a single woman previously living in a welfare situation with four kids. she remarked that she was treated with utmost respect by the students designing her home, involving her a great deal in planning and taking personal interest in her situation. a model program that should be implemented at more schools.
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