RURAL STUDIO: Twenty Years of Designing and Building in Hale County West Alabama

Andrew Freear will present a series of case studies of Auburn University’s Rural Studio, the design-build projects and pedagogy which has created innovative and affordable structures for underserved communities in Western Alabama.  By exploring the “living where we work” concept that operates through observing the existing context, learning from it, and allowing the information to inform design, architects can be actively involved in more aspects of the community.  These community based designs are shaped by the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the local residents to promote social wellbeing and healthy communities.

When designing in underserved communities, it is important navigate socioeconomic changes and anticipate need for social / environmental sustainability, managing local resources, how to use design to address preservation, adaptive reuse, ethics, and issues of social justice.

These issues are used to promote programs which support safe and healthy domiciles and promote sustainable micro economies in underutilized communities with limited resources, yet maintain a focus on health, safety, welfare, and education of the community in the construction of large scale community projects.

Presented will be case studies entitled “The 20K House Program” describing creation of affordable housing for $20,000, “The “Thinnings” Project” to repurpose underutilized local lumber bi-products and small scale sustainable farming and agriculture.