Thursday, January 8, 2009

Samuel Mockbee

Samuel Mockbee (1944-2001) was a very famous architect: not neccesarily for his own buildings but for the studio he created at Auburn University, the Rural Studio.House with wall made out of cardboard scraps
Lily Friedlander addition - Atlanta, GA.
The Rural Studio took architecture students into poor parts of Hale County, Alabama and created homes for the needy. Not FEMA quality basic housing, but works in the high art of architeture, using donated and found materials (car windshields, anyone?) interiors of a chapel -which utilized 80 Chevy Caprice windshields at the cost of $120 Yancey Chapel interior, 1995, made from concrete and old tires!
Not only did the students get hand on learning experience from building their own projects, design experience and facetime with the 'client', but the field of architecture was brought in touch with those who normally expect architects to be for 'rich folks' (a quote from the film). The following clip is from the film 'Snake-bit' which was just released based upon this studio.

























the Hale County animal shelter
Mockbee believed in regionalism, houses built for their specific location and client; not mass produced, cookiecutter mcmansions. There is something to be learned from that. These houses were not expensive and were highly efficient while providing a home for the owner to be proud of. restroom at Pearl LandingHe was aiming to inspire these poor communities into something greater: they deserved better than substandard housing and a substandard life in a rich country. All of the recipients were so proud of their houses and many helped in the construction of them.the 'butterfly' housebottles cast into this wall of this house in Masons Bend, AL. provide light.
A friend and coworker of mine attended the rural studio and she is so proud to have been a part of something so magnificent. I think this shows that we can all go out and make a difference in the world in many different small ways. Mockbee made a difference not just in the lives of these young architects and the many people he helped to house, but in anyone who is inspired by his work.detail of home created from old license plates adhered to a waxed cardboard frame.

11 comments:

Topsy Turvy said...

Wow - fabulous! Perhaps GM has a future in supplying building materials from all their cars that aren't selling.

-Lana

pve design said...

My favorite, what a genius. His work not only is unique, it has soul. My mother taught me to work with what God gave me rather than what he did not. Mr.Mockbee must have had an amazing mother, thrifty and resourceful and thoughtful.

Scott Fazzini said...

WOW! I'd never heard of him before, but am now going to be a little obsessed with learning more about him. Thanks for the post. I think it's my favorite to date!

Kwana said...

AD, thanks so much for this. I was so moved. These are some of the most beautiful structures I've ever seen. I really want to lean more. I can't wait to share the trailer with my kids. Now I want to learn more and see the movie.

jae said...

What an amazing post! What an amazing person! There is a lot to learn from this man....thanks!

ArchitectDesign said...

TT -thats such a great idea! LOL I'm not sure if these were from a salvage yard or new though.
PVE -it always comes back to the mother, doesn't it?? Such an important job and big responsibility!
Scott -I'm surprised this is your favorite, I wasn't sure if this would be your cup of tea!
Kwana -this would be such a great film to bring your kids to see!! So inspirational to kids and they'll love the crazy architecture!
Jae - I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)

Paul Pincus said...

this was fascinating! mockbee's cardboard wall is gorgeous. i'm sure it was the inspiration behind piet boon's beeboard desk! the windshield windows are magnificent. i can't stop looking at the images! i must see snakebit. thanks, s!

David said...

"...they deserved better than substandard housing and a substandard life in a rich country."

That pretty much says it all. This post is one of my favorites as well.

Evelyn said...

If you would like to see the Rural Studio site and all the other projects check out:

http://cadc.auburn.edu/soa/rural%2Dstudio/

kathleen said...

Love the work, but can't help but wonder how long the wall made of cardboard scraps lasted...

MIMILEE said...

I read this with great interest as we are AUBURN grads (hubby and sons) and are supporters of this wonderful institution! Thanks so much for this post and for applauding the wonderful work of the late, great Sambo! What a wonderful humanitarian he was and what a great legacy he has left!

Great post!