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

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1568982922
ISBN-10: 1568982925
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency
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  • Rural Studio at Twenty: Designing and Building in Hale County, Alabama
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  • Design Like You Give a Damn {2}: Building Change from the Ground Up
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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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 Verified Purchase
Its honest to the bone. Good architecture, good pictures, and simply good social efforts. Thats the whole book. Showing with honesty and integrity the efforts made by everyone in the rural studio.
It doesn't have floor plans (im guessing there is a point in all these designs that somethings cant by put down in paper and other you just have to adjust) but the rest is perfect. Very honest, showing the people (the whole point of architecture) and the initial situation and the final product.
Love the book, very inspiring.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is written in such a way that anyone can read and understand the purpose behind the development of Rural Studio. Auburn University was well known nationally before two professors, initially Samuel Mockbee being the one to have the insight for the program, and then fellow Auburn professor D.K. Ruth,developed this awesome program that put Auburn University's College of Architecture on the map internationally. These men had a vision to not only be able to give to a very impoverished area of Alabama much needed facilities, but to also allow students the unique opportunity to be able to actually design and do all the building themselves of what they designed in this area of Alabama, about 50 miles northwest of Selma, Alabama. I am quite partial to this book (and the recent one written in 2014 regarding the programs's 20th anniversary), due to having a daughter who spent a full semester her sophomore year and then many weekends during the following summer of 2009 designing and completing the building of an unbelievable home for a very fortunate family. In the process, my daughter learned to do everything from laying hardwood floors to bricking to installing electricity and plumbing to building a roof, and much much more. She then was quite fortunate to be chosen to do her thesis project at Rural Studio, as being selected to be able to do the fifth year thesis project at Rural Studio is quite an honor. She and three young men from her class are in process of putting final touches on a 5100+ square foot Boys and Girls Club for West Alabama, in particular for the town of Greensboro, Alabams. The book does a fabulous job of showing the beginning of the Rural Studio program with Mockbee's dream so well described and what students accomplished during this time. I defintely give the book 5 stars and would give it more if I could. A super book for the coffee table to share so others will be aware of such an unique program!
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