Rural Studio Inspiration

Good evening,

Another day under our belts here at Studio V. After spending the first week and a half of the semester going to meetings, visiting the site, and getting accustomed to things, we have finally started putting some ideas down on paper. I think that for most of us, it is refreshing to step away from the more logistical aspects of the project and let our creative sides take over. If there is any point in this semester to stretch the limits, explore the possibilities, and test the potential of our most creative ideas, this is it – and really, it’s exciting thinking about it in that respect.

Individually, we have been given the majority of this week to analyze and interpret the information that we have been collecting up to this point. Condensing everything we have experienced and learned over the past week and a half into a single, representative idea is more challenging than I first anticipated, but even that much more exciting! What on earth is this thing going to look like? We haven’t yet pooled our ideas into a single, comprehensive thought, but I think that by the time Friday rolls around and we each present our take on where we believe this project needs to go, we will have a diverse and exciting number of options to develop.

Tonight, we all met at Professor Pastre’s house to view a short film entitled “Citizen Architect”, a documentary on the work of Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio at the University of Auburn. Mockbee’s Rural Studio is a studio for students studying architecture with a specific dedication to design-build projects in underprivileged and impoverished communities. Using local, salvaged materials, Mockbee and his students designed and built some absolutely unbelievable things. As a student, it is nothing short of inspiring to see the impact and the methods used by the Rural Studio at the University of Auburn. I could go on all day talking about Mockbee and the work that he did in his lifetime, but I will keep it succinct in simply saying that Mockbee seemed to truly epitomize the idea of architecture for the community. Not only for the people in it, but also for the environment of that community and the culture of that community. I think it is interesting that the conclusion of our semester will be to design and build the means by which this film will be publicly shown to the general public of Charleston. What a privilege and an opportunity!

It is impossible to walk away from that film tonight and not think about how those principles can be applied to what we are doing. I think that a lot of Mockbee’s ideas relate closely with the sustainable issues presented by Bluesphere and this Expo. I realize that we only have a few short months and that this installation is not permanent, but I can’t help but feel a sense of public responsibility and awareness surrounding this project. It will be interesting to see how our class interprets these issues presented to us and comes up with responsible, inspiring solutions to them.

Above all, I think everyone is excited to learn from this experience. Not many architecture students get the opportunity to see their designs come to life (strange how that works…), and those that have will say that it is invaluable in the learning process. I’m not sure what will result from our ideas on Friday, but I am sure that it will be something rewarding in the very least. Back to the drawing board…

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