Rural Studio is the brain child of D.K Ruth and Samuel Mockbee who based their off-campus design-build program of Auburn University on the simple concept that “everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good design.”
In the new book Rural Studio at Twenty: Designing and Building in Hale County, Alabama by Andrew Freear and Elena Barthel with Andrea Oppenheimer Dean examine the cause and effect of Rural Studio on Hale County, Alabama. But the most interesting question is asked by the authors in the title of their article Can These $20,000 Houses Save the American Dream? found in Slate.
In 2005 Rural Studio started its affordable housing program. Their goal, to design and build a $20,000 home that would appreciate in value while staying within the budget of today’s median Social Security recipient. They also wanted to make these buildings an attractive business opportunity for local contractors adding to the local economy.
Taking this goal back into the studio is the challenge to design homes that, not only fit the budgetary constraints but also are livable. Taking into account the local natural constraints and aesthetics, keep design decisions grounded but seem to spur creative solutions.
Rural Studio at Twenty chronicles the process of designing these homes for the local residents in need and how it transformed their quality of life.