Rural Studio

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Rural Studio Restroom at Perry Landing

The Rural Studio is a design-build architecture studio run by Auburn University, it aims to teach students about the social responsibilities of the profession of architecture while also providing safe, well-constructed and inspirational homes and buildings for poor communities in rural west Alabama, part of the so-called "Black Belt".

The studio was founded in 1993 by architects Samuel Mockbee and D. K. Ruth, it is led by UK-born architect Andrew Freear. Each year the program builds five or so projects - a house by the second-year students, three thesis projects by groups of 3-5 fifth-year students, and one or more outreach studio projects, the Rural Studio has built more than 80 houses and civic projects in Hale, Perry and Marengo counties. The Rural Studio is based in Newbern, a small town in Hale County. Many of its best-known projects are in the tiny community of Mason's Bend, on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

$20K House[edit]

The $20K House is an ongoing research project at the Rural Studio that seeks to address the pressing need for decent and affordable housing in Hale County, Alabama. Nearly 30% of individuals in Hale County live in poverty. Due to the lack of conventional credit for people with this level of income, and insufficient knowledge about alternative sources of funding, mobile homes offer the only chance for home ownership for many. Unlike a house, which is an asset for its owner, trailers deteriorate very quickly and depreciate in value over time. Mobile homes are also linked with higher cancer rates due to the use of formaldehydes in their construction.

The $20k House project intends to produce a model home that could be reproduced on a large scale, and thereby become a viable alternative to the mobile home in this area, the challenge is to build a house for $20,000, ten to twelve thousand of which will go towards materials and the remainder to contracted labor. Once a truly successful model has been designed, the aim is to sell the houses in conjunction with the “502 Direct Loan” provided by the Rural Housing Service, the project began in 2005, and there have been 16 iterations of the house so far. The project is typically carried out by four outreach students, international post-graduates with a background in architecture or design.


By year, some designers are listed.


  • Lion's Park - Phase VI (hub), Greensboro
    • Ed May, Madelynne Miller, Gwyndolyn Mowbray, Charles Spires
  • Newbern Town Hall, Newbern
    • Brett Bowers, David Frazier, Mallory Garrett, Zane Morgan
  • Thinnings Bath House, Payne Lake, Talladega National Forest
    • Michael Dowdy, Franklin Frost, Will McGarity, Mary Pruitt
  • $20K House Phase X, Faunsdale
    • Jacob Beebe, Erika Henriksson, Eric Schmid, Sandra Yubero
  • Morrisette House Passive Solar Greenhouse, Newbern
    • Morgan Acino, Christine Bagdigian, Damien Bolden, Ashley Clark, Drew Craven, Kurt Funderberg, Brad Greene, Will Gregory, Kyle Johnson, Peter McInish, Michael Stricklin, Ashley Williams


  • Lion's Park - Phase V (playscape), Greensboro
    • Jamie Sartory, Courtney Mathias, Bill Batey, Cameron Acheson
  • Safe House Museum, Greensboro
    • Cassandra Kellogg, Chris Currie, Candace Rimes
  • Thinnings Bridge, Payne Lake, Talladega National Forest
    • Nick Wickersham, Golpar Garmestani, Nick Bishop
  • $20k House Phase IX, Faunsdale
    • Clem Blakemore, Pernilla Hagbert, Will Holman
  • Morrisette House Kitchen, Newbern
    • Eric Kessler, Ivan Vanchev, Alyssa Webster, Thomas Kurian, Hunter Dyas, Hanna Johns, Sean Sungyoon Jeong, Daniel Weldon


  • Lion's Park - Phase IV (skateplay), Greensboro
    • Evan Dick, Brett Randall Jones, Carrie Laurendine
  • Lion's Park - Phase IV (concessions), Greensboro
    • John Plaster, Terran Wilson, Sandy Wolf
  • Thinnings Pavilion, Payne Lake, Talladega National Forest
    • Anna Bevill, Lori Fine, Ian Hoffman, Roger Mainor
  • $20K House Phase VIII, Newbern
    • Charity Bulgrien, Ian Cook, Obi Elechi
  • Rose Lee House, Footwash
    • Sarah Al-Rukhayyes, Tyler Allgood, Kendra Ayers, Tanner Backman, Doug Bacon, Bob Benner, Brandon Block, Stephanie Brown, David Charney, Jordan Cox, Michael De St. Aubin, Andrew Dolder, Christine Furey, Rebecca Hayes, Alex Henderson, Randall Holmes, Clay Jackson, Stephen Kesel, Allyson Klinner, Kenneth Lao, Corey Lee, Tina Maceri, Lauren Oliver, Alex Peeples, Benjamin Pendergraft, Autumn Sikorowski, Andrew Taylor, Daniel Toner, Christina Walton, Elizabeth Whitlock, Joe Wojciechowski, Katie Woods, Mary Melissa Yohn


  • 20K - Bridge Greensboro
    • Betsy Farrell, Drew Merkle, Rand Pinson, Ashley Snell
  • 20K - Loft Greensboro
    • Kait Caldwell, Joey Fante, Aimee O'Carroll, Ryan Stephenson
  • 20K - Pattern Book Greensboro
    • Drew Coshow, Rob Douge, Abbie Grubb, Steven Ward
  • 20K - Roundwood Greensboro
    • Ryan Coleman, Matt Mueller, Mackenzie Stagg, Laurienne Uguen [1]
  • St. Luke's Church Renovation, Cahawba, Alabama
    • Michael Dowdy, Hannah Dulaney, Susie Fagg, Mallory Garrett, Sarah Hunter, Maggie Johnson, Edward May, Will McGarity, Mary Pruitt, Nourah Said, Charles Spires, Ali Tyler, Johannes Ubben, Heather Baber, Alex Baker, Cassidy Beam, Brett Bowers, Meghan Bullard, John Burleson, David Frazier, Franklin Frost, Blake Habshey, Matt Millican, Zane Morgan, Corey Moulton, Gwyndolyn Mowbray, Delvin Stephens, Kristy Swann


  • Lion's Park - Phase II (toilets), Greensboro
    • Mark Dempsey, Russell Gibbs, Adam Kent, Pamela Raetz. [2]
  • Lion's Park - Phase III (surfacing), Greensboro
    • Joey Aplin, Lindsay Butler, Anthony Vu, Adam "Woody" Woodward. [3]
  • Akron Boys & Girls Club - II
    • Danny Wicke, Whitney Hall, Adam Pearce, John Marusich
  • $20K House - Phase III - Greensboro, Alabama

Karamjit Birk, Sabina Nieto, Jane Sloss, Jeremy Aranoff, and Prof. Steven "white lightning" Long

  • St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Cahawba

Amy Songer, Amy Cook, Cassandra Kellogg, Jessica Moeller, Casey Patterson, Joe Kochak, Lea Henley, April Brown, Nicole Dennis, Courtney Mathias, Katie Owens, Amanda Peterson, Michael Shows, Scott Smith, Daniel Stewart, John Thompson, Brittany Winslett, Cameron Acheson, William Batey, Nick Biship, Chris Currie, Christine Dingivan, Golpar Garmestani, Erin Graves, Sarah Hollerman, Eric Hutchinson, Adam Leonard, Frances Leon, John Mansour, Candace Rimes, Jamie Sartory, Fuller Sherrod, Walker Stone, Nick Wickersham


  • Lion's Park - Phase I, Greensboro
    • Laura Filipek, Alicia Gjesvold, Jeremy Sargent, Daniel Splaingard, Mark Wise
  • Hale County Hospital, Greensboro
    • Blair Bricken, Nathan Foust, Nicholas Gray, Heidi Schattin
  • Hale County Animal Shelter, Greensboro
    • Jeff Bazzell, Julieta Collart, Lana Farkas, Connely Farr
  • $20K House - Phase II, Greensboro
    • Nathalie Leysen, Alexandre Landry, Fernando Abreu, Susan Massey, Kellie Stokes
  • Michelle's House, Greensboro
    • Anna Marie Bevil, Jason Blankenship, Brittany Creehan, Jacob Fyfe, Brittany Graeber, Jennifer Isenburg, Carrie Laurendine, Jonathan Mayhall, Don Mott, Brandon Rainosek, Haley Robinson, Christopher Terrell, Marcus Buckner-Perry, Justyn Chandler, Michelle Clark, Taylor Clark, Evan Dick, Lori Fine, Robert Hall, Drew Jerdan, Brett Randall Jones, Ben Krauss, Carolyn Norton, John Plaster, Dorothy Sherling, Casey Smith, Kathleen Webb, Terran Wilson


  • Perry Lakes Canopy Tower

Adrienne Brady, Natalie Butts, Paul Howard, Coley Mulcahy

  • Perry County Learning Center

Dereck Aplin, Sam Currie, Amy Bell, Angela Hughey, Turnley Smith

Steven Long, Amy Bullington

  • Re-sourcing

David Garner

Kellie Stokes, Laura Noguera, Phillip March Jones, Hanna Loftus, Minn Joo Kim

Rosannah Harding, Daniel Ash, Mackenzie Stagg, Joey Fante, Ryan Coleman, Jen Hale, Courtney Casburn, Drew Merkle, Melissa Graveline, Ryan Stephenson



  • Perry Lakes Toilets and Boardwalk, Marion
    • Sarah Dunn, Matt Foley, Brannen Park, Melissa Sullivan
  • Rural Heritage Center Gift Shop
    • Emily McGlohn, Katie B. Johnston, John David Caldwell
  • Sunshine School, Newbern
  • Organic Farmer's Stand, Newbern
  • Ola Mae Porch
  • Newbern Little League Field, Newbern
    • Jason A. Hunsucker, Jermaine Washington, Julie Hay, Patrick Nelson
  • Music Man House, Greensboro
  • dining hall, Newbern
    • Matt Christopher, Kris Johnson, Albert Ulysses Mitchum II, Clark Todd Gollotte


  • Perry Lakes Cedar Pavilion
    • Jennifer Bonner, Mary Beth Maness, Nathan Orrison, Anthony Tindill
  • Antioch Baptist Church
    • Jared Fulton, Gabe Michaud, William Nauck, Marion McElroy
  • HERO Knowledge Cafe, Greensboro
    • Andrea Ray, John McCabe, Daniel Sweeney, Matt Wilson
  • Great Hall at Morrisette, Newbern
  • Akron Senior Center
    • Matthew Barrett, Jonathan Graves, Breanna Hinderliter, Joseph Yeager
  • Shiles House
  • Lucy House, Mason's Bend, Hale County
    • Keith Zawistowski, Marie Zawistowski, James Tate, Ben Cannard, Kerry Larkin, Floris Keverling Buisman
  • Architectural Ambulance



  • Glass Chapel, Mason's Bend, Hale County
  • Thomaston Farmer's Market
  • Pods at Morrisette, Newbern
  • Spencer House, Newbern
  • Sanders/Dudley House, Greensboro
  • Mason's Bend Basketball Court




  • Goat House, Josh Cooper and Iain Stewart
  • Butterfly House, Mason's Bend, Hale County
    • William Austin, Clifford Brooks, Kristen Kepner Coleman, Joshua Daniel, Adam Gerndt, Jo Beth Gleason, Jeremy Moffet, Justin Patwin, Hunter Simmons, Elizabeth Stallworth, Samuel Watkins, William Whittaker Jr., Heather Wootten, Jeff Marteski, Timothy Sliger, Robert Sproull, Tommy Replogle, Jon Schumann, John Ritchie, Charlie Hughes, Jimmy Turner, Jeff Johnston,
  • Akron Pavilion
  • H.E.R.O. Playscape, Joe Alcock and Melissa Teng Greensboro





  • Andrea Oppenheimer Dean and Timothy Hursley, (2005) "Proceed and Be Bold: Rural Studio After Samuel Mockbee". Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-56898-500-2
  • Samuel Mockbee, David Moos and Gail Trechsel. (2003) Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio. Birmingham Museum of Art. ISBN 0-931394-52-X
  • Andrea Oppenheimer Dean, photographer, Timothy Hursley. (2002) Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-56898-292-5

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°35′20″N 87°32′02″W / 32.58877°N 87.53378°W / 32.58877; -87.53378