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Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency
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Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  219 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
For almost ten years, Samuel Mockbee, a recent MacArthur Grant recipient, and his architecture students at Auburn University have been designing and building striking houses and community buildings for impoverished residents of Alabama's Hale County. Using salvaged lumber and bricks, discarded tires, hay and waste cardboard bales, concrete rubble, colored bottles, and old ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Princeton Architectural Press
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Aug 02, 2007 Kyla rated it liked it
Occasionally, when I'm hanging out in libraries (i.e.- often), I like to see what books people have left behind in their study carrals or on tables - it gives me a little snapshot of their life or what they're interested in. And sometimes I discover a treasure I would never have found otherwise. Case in point, this book. In ugly navy blue library binding, I opened it up to find it was actually a beautiful book put out by Princeton Architecture Press. I have a crush on this publisher - they put o ...more
May 24, 2008 Marguerite rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Idealists
I learned about Samuel Mockbee in a long feature article, maybe from the wire services or NYT, while he was still alive. He captured my imagination as someone who really made a difference in the world, with the most humble of materials --including garbage. And, not only did he help have-nots to have beautiful places to live and hang out, but he taught another generation to practice socially responsible architecture and build similar housing. When I saw a review of this book, I had to have it. It ...more
Oct 28, 2007 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
The works in this book were original and very interesting. The book shows a side of architecture that most people don't know about and most students and interns should pay more attention too. The fact that this is actually an educational program is incredible. The only complaint I have is that the book could definitely include more photographs, as well as concept sketches and design drawings. Photographs of details could help too.
Jan 07, 2016 Grace rated it it was amazing
This is such a great counterpoint to most glossy design books. The text, the photos, the ideas are all inspiring. I wish the book included floor plans and drawings because I really want to know how they packed so much functionality in such small sf.

I particularly like the sensitive way that the homes are photographed, especially the "then and now" pictures that show how the owners and home adapted to one another.

I sew with recycled textiles and my home has bits of recycling potential squirreled
Jan 28, 2015 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, spacing
In his 1952 novel East of Eden, John Steinbeck took on an argument for the inherent struggle of man to do good over evil. One of my top three favorite quotes from the book sums this all up quite neatly:

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he
Carrie Bloomston
Sep 22, 2014 Carrie Bloomston rated it it was amazing
He is an utter genius. Very inspiring book about vernacular architecture and Mockbee's vision for an egalitarian, up cycled architecture for ALL people.
Feb 18, 2014 Cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
images of low-cost structures built for families in the rural south. some interesting ideas for building materials.
Eli Phillips
May 14, 2012 Eli Phillips rated it it was amazing
samuel mockbees work is amazing.

started the whole sustainable craze. bless him for his work with underpriviledged americans :) love this philanthropy architecture :)

really was a huge leap from earthships of the 70s, to creating beautiful low cost architecture. the building of a community and non-ev architecture is so rewarding to read about i can't even imagine what it would be like to do the work! :)

amazing man, amazing vision :)
Feb 03, 2008 Janie rated it it was amazing
The title says it all: architecture of decency. Mockbee was an architect concerned more with the potential of architecture to lift the human spirit, not about how loudly it celebrates its maker. By using recycled materials, like old road signs, bottles, tires, etc, Mockbee created contemporary structures in rural southern towns that fit beautifully into the landscape for which it was made.
Mar 24, 2007 Sharon rated it really liked it
This book shows the beauty and compassion of the early works of Mockbee's Rural Studio -- it is compelling to read and peruse, but after visiting the projects and seeing them in their surroundings, I was disappointed to see the context "cleaned away" for the book. It's important to know what's around these works, and how they're really used; the book glosses over them.
Dec 03, 2007 Jo rated it it was amazing
What design should be - not a way to benefit the rich; but a way to re-exam if the way we have always done things is really the best considering how rapidly we gain new knowledge and working creatively with the resources you have and using them to their fullest potential versus a poor version of something else.
Jan 19, 2009 Karena rated it really liked it
Rural Studio, founded by Samuel Mockbee, is based on the principle that everyone - regardless of income level - should have access to good, quality architecture. This book is also full of creative ideas for the re-use of reclaimed materials within the architectural context.
Aug 28, 2007 Max rated it it was amazing
Incredible. If only more people in the world had his attitude. And why do people like Mockbee die so young and people like Bush and Cheney live so long????

Books like this help to bring back the notion of GOOD being more important than GREAT.
Jacob Haynes
Architecture meets poverty meets humanity meets service all being introduced to one another through Sambo Mockbee. Some great examples of design and even more profound thoughts on how architecture should contribute to society.
Jun 07, 2009 Caroline rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2008
To do something that helps people, is responsible with materials, and is artistically excellent--that is an exciting idea. Here is one way to have a creative career that meets human needs and is others-focused.
May 06, 2008 Theresa rated it really liked it
I read this because Mockbee was an inspiring architect and I'm going to Alabama at the end of May with a group to see some of the houses and other structures that his students built. Very cool stuff.
Jan 07, 2012 Al rated it really liked it
Terrific book and photography! Great write up on architecture in poverty and rural settings with renewable or recycled material. Stunning work really.
Dec 28, 2008 Dawn marked it as to-read
Emily, this sounds fascinating, and something that you might like to read, too. I read a review on goodreads by "Abigail A." which sparked my interest.
Jul 17, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Even if you're not an architecture nerd like me it's worth seeing what a little money and a lot of heart can do for people who really need it.
Sep 03, 2010 Antonio rated it it was amazing
Poverty, civil rights, rustic materials, rough craftsmanship and Architecture!
Feb 20, 2008 Devin rated it liked it
clever and giving hearts design impressive spaces in rural america
Aug 20, 2007 Wanda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: architect
Shelves: architecture
this book is my inspiration, ever!
Anna Lou
Jul 30, 2007 Anna Lou rated it it was amazing
an architecture of humanity.
May 22, 2008 Barrett rated it it was amazing
Love what Sam Mockbee did with architecture in the poorest county of Alabama.
Eric Baldwin
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