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The Rural Studio Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Rural Studio 20th Anniversary logo

In 1993, Sambo Mockbee and D.K. Ruth brought a handful of architecture students out to rural West Alabama to give them a hands-on educational experience of designing and building for an underserved population. After the passing of Samuel Mockbee, Andrew Freear succeeded him as director, and to date, Rural Studio has built more than 150 community-based projects and educated more than 600 "citizen architects.”

The Rural Studio philosophy suggests that everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefits of good design. In its initial years, the Studio became known for establishing an ethos of recycling, reusing, and remaking.  It continues to question what should be built, rather than what can be built. The Studio has evolved towards community-oriented projects, which have become multi-year, multi-phase efforts spanning across three counties, while maintaining the belief that well-designed, affordable housing is important for both the students and the community.  In addition, since 2008 the Rural Studio Farm Project has been exploring the question: how should we eat, produce, and consume in a rural setting? The Farm is a multi-year project focused on redesigning the Rural Studio property and providing the opportunity to experiment with the production of food, energy, and building materials. 

The Studio’s rich existence in rural West Alabama for the past twenty years is rooted in building relationships and earning trust from their neighbors and friends in the community. Immersing themselves in West Alabama has afforded their students the opportunity to apply their skills as designers, while also learning about the nature, history, culture, economy, architecture and community in this unique educational landscape. Rural Studio would like to celebrate and honor the place and its people, which have allowed them to thrive while maintaining rigor and passion.

Rural Studio started with a house for the Bryant family. This year, the entire studio—third years,  fifth years, and outreach students—will focus on housing by designing and building eight $20K Houses for the community.  In addition, the upcoming year will see the completion of the following in-progress community projects: Greensboro Boys & Girls club, a Scout Hut for Greensboro troop 13, Newbern library, and two phases of Lions Park and the Rural Studio Farm.  The Studio will also host a number of events throughout the year, including Alumni Lecture Nights, a Lecture Series of national and international guests, and Soup & Pig Roasts at the culmination of each semester.


Rural Studio is also proud to announce the new online fundraising campaign that makes giving easy and fun with Adopt-A-20K and Custom Giving options.  Adopt-A-$20K offers twelve adoption options from a 2x4 to a whole$ 20K House, while the Custom Giving site offers a recurring or one-time gift option of any amount . A donation of any amount is a tremendous gift and helps build a home for a family today and educate the citizen architects of tomorrow. Make a gift today by visiting!

For more information, contact:

Natalie Butts