Print Shortlink

Architecture with a Concsience

Students working on a home for Florida’s Brevard Habitat for Humanity. Photo by Lesa Lorusso

How can the design of spaces positively affect its inhabitants? Does architectural design have a moral responsibility to better the lives of end users of interior and exterior spaces? Samuel Mockbee thought so, and I agree with him. I have been a fan of Auburn University’s Rural Studio for years. The brainchild of late Architect, social visionary and Auburn University professor Samuel Mockbee, the Rural Studio takes architecture students to Florida’s northern neighbors in rural Alabama to engage in projects ranging from churches, community centers to private homes with impoverished local residents. Mockbee began the Studio in the early 1990’s as a reaction against the architectural profession’s prevailing preoccupation with matters of style and instead sought to “challenge the status quo into making responsible environmental and social changes.” He believed that architectural education should expand its curriculum from “paper architecture” to the creation of real buildings and to sowing “a moral sense of service to the community.” (1)

Several educational programs within Brevard County, FL have aligned with Mockbee’s philosophy of architectural community service. Drafting students from Satellite High School and students from Brevard Community College’s Interior Design Technology program have contributed to the design and construction of homes for Brevard Habitat for Humanity, thus effectively moving away from “paper architecture” and onto the construction site. The experience is a highlight for students who gain hands on experience and emphasizes the social impact that design can have.

Lion’s Park Playscape, Image courtesy of Auburn University’s Rural Studio

Lions Park Playscape is an excellent example of community focused architecture in action. It is the fifth phase of Rural Studio’s involvement in the 40-acre, Greensboro Park. Phase Five’s project scope is to design and build a playground, as well as to add a 1/2 mile of walking trail to the pre-exisitng 1/2 mile circuit. The Lion’s Park Playscape is made up of 55 gallon galvanized drums previously used to store all natural mint oil, were donated by a Washington based company. The drums were used to create a “play maze” and durable, interactive environment. (2)

Rural Studio student designers:

Cameron Acheson, Bill Batey, Courtney Mathias, Jamie Sartory

Sources:

  1. Hursley, Timothy & Oppenheimer, Andrea. Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency. Princeton Architectural Press, NY, NY 2002.
  2. http://lionsparkplayscape.ruralstudioblogs.org

23 Responses

  1. Jennifer

    As designers, our every decision in an environment affects the users. Often it is not realized just how much of an affect our decisions have until a space is put to use over a period of time. Our profession is mistakenly associated with dollar signs and decorating; not morality, safety and function. Taking our training out into the community is a win, win situation for all. Better yet, involving the community creates the opportunity to profoundly impact an area and residents forever. Working in the community as a student at different stages in my education has contributed to my own professional ethic code. Partnering up with Habitat for Humanity on three different projects over the years has opened my eyes to the goodwill, pride and strength that having a common goal can bring to individuals and that this spirit is contagious. Coincidentally, my parents who raised my siblings and I to be both morally and socially conscious, live in Alabama not far from Auburn University. They are fortunate to live in a private, gated community. This community, much like others across the United States has several poverty stricken areas outside it’s gates. This being said, there is rarely a conversation had with my parents or a visit up there that community outreach on some level is not mentioned or participated in. I am a designer “in training”, my mother is a teacher and artist, my father an engineer; together with different supporting groups (religious and civic) we have build playgrounds, repaired homes, churches and fire stations after last years tornado outbreak, and even help feed the hungry. Serving the community in any capacity is a selfless act, but architects and designers have the unique opportunity to provide a built environment, a potential monument that positively affects those in and around the structure.

  2. Jan C Reed

    I do think that the design of a space can positively or negatively affect its inhabitants. A structure designed with few windows would be dark depressing and would not create a very positive living environment. That is why architects are extensively trained to create functional, but esthetically pleasing buildings that create a positive impact on its inhabitants. Architectural training was taken even a step further by Samuel Mockbee when he required students to volunteer and work on charitable projects for churches, community centers and private homes in impoverished areas in rural Alabama. I think this was a great idea for the students to expand the curriculum outside of the classroom and learn about building real, usable structures, while serving a disadvantaged community. This is something that we too have done at Brevard Community College when working on the Habitat for Humanity Homes in our area.

    As an assignment for the Residential II class at BCC, we were required to work on a Habitat home. I will admit that when this assignment was first discussed, I did not have a very positive attitude about it. First, it was on a Friday, our day off of school, and just one more task to add to my busy list of “things to do.” Our task on the first home was painting, but on the next home we actually were asked to redesign and bathroom and add a garage to an existing home. This proved to be a positive collaboration where we as students were able to gain actual hands on experience, in addition to helping a deserving family in our community.

  3. Lana Bonomo

    Students at Universities across the United States are learning the foundations of their chosen field. The theories learned provide the bedrock of their understanding. But, theory and practicality can clash when these students begin their professional careers. Learning on the job is the best way to see how to apply what is known and to formulate opinions of the current issues of their chosen area.

    Samuel Mockbee, an Auburn University teacher and co-creator of Rural Studio understood this. Growing up during the Cival Rights movement he was deeply affected by the mistreatment of African-Americans . (1) He saw the way they lived in poverty stricken neighborhoods as and unfortunate by-product of their circumstances. He created Rural Studio to address the needs of these communities. He modeled and taught his students, “That is the reason you go to college, not to make more money, but to gain the knowledge to make this a better world.” (2) His architecture students participated in building homes for citizens in his native poverty-stricken Hale County, Mississippi.
    All 80 of his buildings were sustainable and affordable to build. For example, in the Bryant house, his first project, he used hay bales as an insulating substructure. (3) Lucy’s house was built with wall insulation of 72,000 stacked carpet tiles. (4) Butterfly House was created to meet the needs of the current residents who needed handicapped access. He used lower bathroom features, wide doorways, and unobtrusive ramps. He created a roof to capture the rainwater which was reused in the home with a gray water plumbing system. (5) His underlying philosophy was, “Everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul.” (6)
    Sources:
    1. http://Samuelmockbee.net/biography http://samuelmockbee.net/rural-projects/
    2. http://Samuelmockbee.net/quotes/
    3. http://samuelmockbee.net/rural-projects/bryant-hay-bale-house/
    4. http://samuelmockbee.net/rural-projects/lucys-house
    5. http://samuelmockbee.net/rural-studio/projects/butterfly-house/
    6. http://samuelmockbee.net/projects

  4. Clair Brown

    Samuel Mockbee’s philosophies of impacting poor people in the area he grew up in was a brilliant community development strategy. Not only did he succeed in this effort as an architect but he established a student run Rural Studio at Auburn University which he taught this same philosophy. Mockbee grew up during the civil rights movements and was very passionate about people being mistreated and forced to live in poverty. Mockbee said, “Theory and practice are not interwoven with one’s culture but with the responsibility of shaping the environment and breaking up social complacency, and challenging the power of status quo.” (Samuelmockbee) Combining mostly recycled materials and modern design, he wanted students to select a family, build a home specifically for the family and be impacted themselves. “It becomes necessary to leave the classroom,” Samuel Mockbee once said, “and enter the classroom of the community.” (Samuelmockbee) To this day, Rural Studio has built over 80 homes and civic buildings in Hale county Alabama. Among many others, these buildings include Yancey Chapel, Akron Boys and Girls Club and Newbern Firehouse.
    This is a powerful legacy, a chance for architecture students to work together to provide homes for people they don’t even know. Also, learning to re-purpose and recycle building materials are excellent skills to develop for any direction they may decide to go. Families in need of livable housing are just as important those you have them and if a sustainable approach is used, it’s good for our environment and the best thing for our neighborhoods.

    Source:
    http://samuelmockbee.net

  5. Coral Moyle

    A space can positively affect the environment in many different ways. When looking for a house people look for places that make them feel safe, positive, and that feeling that draws you in and makes you want to come home every day to this beautiful house. Not places were you get a dark and unsettling feeling. I recently was apartment searching and there were key opponents I looked for, such as safety of the building, energy efficient (green), bright (windows), and the layout just to name a few. I do feel that architectural design had a moral responsibility to better the lives of people who reside there. I have personally taken part in building a house in Jamaica for a family in need. It was a great experience. When we were in the process of building we kept in mind the needs of the family along with what would be efficient for them. We in the end build a small house with a outside kitchen because they cook over fire due to that fact they do not have electricity. In addition we added, plenty of windows for light to shine in and ruining water which they did not have before. I think it’s a great idea to teach young students like myself to recycle and use unique materials to build new things. The jungle gym that was built with recycled material is a great Idea! I would love to design an area like that for kids to enjoy. It’s a great way not only to recycle but to use your imagination.

  6. Bryan Mozo

    I think we as designers owe it to our community to make try and strive to use are designs for the greater good of our civilization. Too many people feel that design is just kind of a frilly job where we all just make spaces look pretty but those of us in the design community know how much more good designs can enhance spaces for those using them.
    I love the Lion’s Park Playscape as an example of community focused architecture. I don’t believe there are enough playgrounds and community centers where kids can just go run around and get enough exercise. Using these green designs I think it’s such a wonderful commodity to that city’s parks. I just love the use of the 55 gallon drums as not only a play structure but also as a source of shade which I know from experience working in the Parks and Recreation department for six years people will always complain about.
    I also love Habitat for Humanity and think that it’s such a great organization with such an admirable cause. I really hope to get to volunteer with them soon with our classes at BCC I think it would be a great thing for our Interior Design Club to do as a community service project in the upcoming semesters of classes and I know a lot of the students would be very enthusiastic about lending a helping hand to the community.

  7. Alison Carver

    Sam Mockabees’s program at Auburn University, Rural Studios, is a great and inspiring idea. I have always been a huge believer in hands on experience as being the ideal learning environment. Apprenticeship programs have always been the backbone of a productive and extremely efficient craftsmanship program from the beginning of time. Even today, family mechanics, blacksmiths, welding, jewelers, and horologist are just a few good examples of trades that have thrived using the apprenticeship approach. I would imagine there would be some downfalls to this approach as well. Studying with only one tradesman could limit the different techniques or approaches available. Unless your teacher is an individual active in continuing education and avid in maintaining an open mind to what might be a changing field, the student might end up getting really good at a very specific technique or approach. Establishing a network of craftsmen of a certain trade, working together with their students and possibly even rotating internships every few years to get a new approach would be an ideal solution. I think the Rural Studios project is a great step in that direction. As being one of the students who worked on the Habitat for Humanity projects through Brevard Community College’s Interior Design Program, I can honestly say it has potential to be a valuable experience. The times where our education and training was utilized and put to the test was exceptional, unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the other times where we were simply used as manual labor.

  8. Jessica Hook

    I think what they are doing is really great for the community. It is a great way to get people together from many different backgrounds while also doing something to help other people. I took a drafting class when I was a senior in high school and we never left the classroom. All we did was basically draw blue prints for an hour and a half a day. I can honestly say that I do not remember anything about the class today beside that I drew many things. If I was giving the opportunity or choice to do projects like the ones in the blog, I probably would have a better memory of the class today. When someone learns by doing something hands on, they are more likely to remember what they learned in the future. Also this is for a good cause and the students are able to put what they are learning in the classroom and out in the field to use. What these people are doing is something that will stick with them forever. Not just doing good deeds, but also learning a skill that will be useful in the future, while doing these good deeds. Habitat for Humanity is an amazing organization that has been helping people and families since 1976. It is a non-profit and non-governmental organization. There are many area offices located around the world: United States, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America, and the Caribbean. I hope that Habitat for Humanity continues to be around from more decades to come.

  9. ahmed almaz

    I would imagine there would be some downfalls to this approach as well. Studying with only one tradesman could limit the different techniques or approaches available. Unless your teacher is an individual active in continuing education and avid in maintaining an open mind to what might be a changing field, the student might end up getting really good at a very specific technique or approach. Establishing a network of craftsmen of a certain trade, working together with their students and possibly even rotating internships every few years to get a new approach would be an ideal solution. I think the Rural Studios project is a great step in that direction. As being one of the students who worked on the Habitat for Humanity projects through Brevard Community College’s Interior Design Program, I can honestly say it has potential to be a valuable experience. The times where our education and training was utilized and put to the test was exceptional, unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the other times where we were simply used as manual labor.

 I love the Lion’s Park Playscape as an example of community focused architecture. I don’t believe there are enough playgrounds and community centers where kids can just go run around and get enough exercise. Using these green designs I think it’s such a wonderful commodity to that city’s parks. I just love the use of the 55 gallon drums as not only a play structure but also as a source of shade which I know from experience working in the Parks and Recreation department for six years people will always complain about.

  10. Jessica Derrick

    I also believe that the design of a space can have an effect on its inhabitants; I believe it can alter mood, inspire, and allow us to remember. With the new trend in sustainability, architectural designs are also able to protect our environment for future generations. Not only can a building can easily alter a person’s mood, by being bright and open or dark and scary, but it can also transport a person they have never been, or a scenes of a different generation or time. Architecture can stimulate the imagination and allow people’s creativity to flow; I believe this is extremely important in buildings that house artists, musicians, inventors, and schools. Architecture is a way to remember a time in history, each period has memorable attributes which are carried forward through decades. I believe that this time will be remembered for some architects extreme focus on extreme sustainability no matter what it does to alter the look of the house, our time is focused on ‘going green’.
    Education programs like the one you describe are very important for educated and create interest in future generations. I think it’s great that the students are able to apply some of the stuff they have been learning about in school, they are able to put it into practice. Not only do they get hands-on experience, but Habitat for Humanity is a very helpful organization in the community.
    I love the picture of the Lion’s Park Playscape, it looks very interesting place to be able to visit; the creativity that a piece like this can expire can be endless.

  11. Abdulaziz AlQahtani

    I believe that the structure has its affects, however, mostly it comes from the owner and how he takes actions on taking care of his or her home. There are some certain architectural designs that was used to build that certain home for certain circumstances. Such as houses was built in a certain way to keep the house cold if that area’s weather is hot. There are some who design their houses for such storms where they’re houses can maintain and stay strong. Also, there are other houses where it was built for snow and put roofs over the houses in order for the snow to fall instead of being in top and melts off over the house. From where I was raised, there aren’t triangular roofs in top of our heads cause of our weather. Where I’m from, it doesn’t snow and it rarely has any rain. Although, our homes were built to fight against sand storms. Although, you can’t really judge a house on how long it can live and how strong it can be unless it’s been testing and therefore, you will realize the negative and positive about this certain design you put on this building. You can’t find what’s wrong with a building in a short amount of time and even if you did, you can automatically tell that this building won’t last for a long time. This is why it’s important to know what your designing and make sure that a good architect designs your home not only based on what you want it to be, but also, its ability to maintain and stand for a while.

  12. David Scott

    I also agree with the thoughts of Auburn University professor Samuel Mockbee. The design of spaces can positively affect its inhabitants based on variegated factors such as aesthetics, ease of navigation, ergonomics of the space’s physical characteristics and even monetary gain by means of savings. The architectural design does have a moral responsibility to better the lives of end users of interior and exterior spaces because the point of most space design is to please the user as much they can starting from the drawing table. Mockbee’s belief that architectural education should expand its curriculum from paper architecture to the creation of real buildings is a concept that should be taken literally and also figuratively with application to various sectors and levels of education. As a Mechanical Engineering major student, the concept could be adapted to the point where most of the education curriculum is theoretical but is followed by practical applications. In other words, not only keep the information learned towards “paper visualizations” but apply it to practical situations (show us how it works).
    I am glad that some initiative has been made to try and expand the concept within Brevard County but I think that all schools worldwide should have a program that gives every student the opportunity to gain experience and study the impact that design could have. Everything has to be designed some time, and some way or another. With the initiation of such a program the world would basically become a better place based on the brainstorming process of the world’s students. Lion’s Park Playscape is an excellent example of the great things that could be done with a little imagination and team work.

  13. Chelsea Pushman

    I too agree with you and Samuel Mockbee that architects have a moral responsibility to provide structures that benefit the end users’ life in many ways. The architectural design’s benefits should outweigh the costs. It is great to see society focusing on sustainability today. Not only for buildings but many businesses and home owners are trying to incorporate going green into their daily lives. Recycling and reusing old materials has become a trend.

    When constructing a building, it should have a distinct function and ensure inhabitants’ safety. The structure should not benefit humans at the expense of our environment. The design of the building or home completely dictates the type of lifestyle practices that will be demonstrated. For instance, if the room is not open and dark, the more electricity will be run due to lack of natural lighting. If the design does not focus on green features then it is more likely the inhabitant will not be too focused on putting forth green habits as well. The design can be a complete motivational tool if it is unique and constructed wisely.

    I think it is awesome to have such educational programs for students to get out there in the field to gain the experience they need for the job. They get to help a charity build homes and spaces for communities. They not only get to enhance their skills but they can learn the meaning of giving back to the community. To know that they helped build a particular space for a family, or a community is a proud but humbling experience.

  14. Daniel MacLeod

    I agree that architects should look at the morality of their buildings and think of who is going to use and stay in their buildings. You read about these architects who are going for fascinating scenes and to wow the eye, but there needs to be a thought of the people that are going to stay in the building. When I walk into somebody else’s home or whatever they own, I feel like I want to be at home too and not just walking into a random building that I have no idea about. Just think about walking into a stranger’s home and you ask where the bathroom is and they basically have to give you a map to get there. I do not quite understand why architects feel the need to make things their own way and so unique, well yes I do because architects have huge egos. Anyways, architects seem to focus on the wrong things during the drawing process in my mind, they always seem to overlook one detail where they are going for the great look or uniqueness instead of common sense. No matter where you go and ask the owner of a building about their house, they will normally always have at least one complaint, unless of course if they designed the house themselves. I am not sure if this is what the article was about, but this is what I feel after reading the article. I love the programs in colleges that are specifically there to help people and create buildings that will promote happiness. I feel as if that we need more of that in the world, to focus on making the others happy instead of themselves by putting their special touch on everything.

  15. Loriann DeMello

    I think this is such a great opportunity for the community and for the architectural students. A hands-on experience is so important when entering a field of work. I am in a completely different field, nowhere near architecture or design, and knowing everything I needed to know to do my job and actually doing my job were so different. That is a completely different set of skills I had to learn. I imagine it is the same for these students, and giving that they are designing what we live and work in, I am really thankful they are receiving this great hands-on experience.
    I also like that Samuel Mockabee and these educational programs for students are focusing on the philosophy of architecture bettering lives of the people using these spaces. I think many different architectural designs focus on the look of a space rather than the function. As much as everyone likes a pretty home, I would like a home that is functional for daily living and makes the most of the space available. I imagine this is the same for all of these community spaces these programs work for such as churches, and this play ground. Making the most of your resources and the space you have available to you is important, especially in today’s growing society. I think this educational program is a wonderful win/win for the community and the students and I hope more communities adopt this great program idea.

  16. Melanie McAboy

    I have recently been doing some research myself on Samuel Mockbee for a project I am working on and am excited to see you mention him in this space. I love the idea as you mention of architecture having a moral component. It’s so important that we preserve our resources for future generations. Sustainable architecture is a great step towards achieving the goals Brundtland and Mockbee spoke of. It’s exciting that students from our own county are involved in Habitat for Humanity, and are learning about Samuel Mockbee’s principles. I was recently reading about a school teacher who was working with her young students and first had them think of their ideal school, and then build a model of it. These students utilized many sustainable principles. It’s so important for our future generations that will be the decision makers of our earth someday to have these opportunities and learn how important the environment is. Hopefully one day these students will look back on the experiences they had in their classroom and make more sustainable choices throughout their lives. Mockbee’s principles are great too in that not only do they promote sustainable architecture but they do so in a way in which you end up with this high end, beautiful spaces to live in or to visit. The image of the drums used to make “an interactive play maze” is fascinating. People can create sustainable and innovative ideas when we really put our minds to it. Thanks for sharing this interesting article!

  17. Michelle Musick

    I love the concept of restoring old buildings and locations. Restoring old buildings and locations that have a historic significance to them is amazing. The fact the places that our grandparents, our parents, or even our generation grew up with can be restore for many more generations to enjoy for years to come is unbelievable.
    I love the “getting away paper architecture” and getting out there concept, and experiencing it firsthand. It’s more enjoyable to learn firsthand how to restore old buildings and places, then just to read about it in a textbook. Well at least that’s what I think, also some people learn better by doing that just reading and having a lecture on it.
    What Rural Studio’s has done with the Lion’s Park Playscape in the 40-acre, Greensboro Park is fantastic. It reminds me of the phrase, “Let’s your imagination run wild”. I’m sure there was a design concept when this playscape was built, but that’s the impression it gives me. I think it’s a wonderful expression for the public to think. It gets them thinking about preservation, and even the historical aspect about it. If they don’t know what the historical aspect of the location is then their curiosity will lead them to find out what it is. Even if they do know what historical aspect is, they will go and do research to see everything for themselves.
    I have always been a fan of preservation. Whether it’s historical or just of an older building or home.

  18. Jennifer Garcia

    I found this article very interesting, not only because it was under the historic reservation website but because it’s about new and modern buildings. However, I could totally see why this is completely relation to preservation and I must say I was impressed. I agree one hundred percent with professor Samuel Mockbee, I think it is very important for students to only only help the communities but to go outside and get their hands on what they are about to do for their rest of their lives. It’s a great opportunity to help others in need when you have a skill and you enjoy doing things like architect. Professor Mockbee is teaching these students not only how to be responsible, grateful human beings of the community but also how they can use their skills to help others. They are doing this project in a great way because they are helping families from low income communities in need but also building green structures like the Lion’s Park Playground that was made of recycled materials. This emphasizes to students how they can use many other recycle materials for their architectural needs and interior as well. Overall Professor Mockbee program is great and more and more students should definitely join it because they could learn a lot through it that can later help them, with green projects being more popular these days I can definitely see how this may help an architect student down the road. The best outcome of this project overall is helping our planet, to be more green and conscious about how we can re-use our waste to make art or even built a building.

  19. shanna lake

    I do think that the design of a space can positively or negatively affect its inhabitants.As designers, our every decision in an environment affects the users. Often it is not realized just how much of an affect our decisions have until a space is put to use over a period of time. For every type of business, they all look at buildings for the type of space that is included or the type of architecture. It sets a mood or feel for their work.
    I think this is such a great opportunity for the community and for the architectural students. A hands-on experience is so important when entering a field of work. For students learning, it also gives them more of an idea of what they are going to be doing. And for some, it helps students learn better by doing a hands on experiment. As for myself, sometimes i learn better by physically doing the work and seeing it. The Mockbee Program, in my opinion, is great. I thimk more students should join.

  20. amna murshed

    In my opinion, the design of spaces positively affects its inhabitants by the materials, whether they are sustainable or environmental friendly materials, and the location of structure.
    Sustainability should be a priority to architects and designers. I also agree that architectural designs have a moral responsibility to better the lives of end users of interior and exterior spaces. The development and improvement of the architectural curriculum in Brevard County is Great; giving students of Satellite High School and students from Brevard Community College’s Interior Design the opportunity to have a hands on experience and get to see what is the real world of this field. Not only were they gaining experience, but also they were benefiting local homeowners of Brevard County. It would be brilliant and beneficial to make and create new sustainable acts, such as the Lion’s Park Playscape in Greensboro Park, within the community; not only will that be helpful to the community but also students in the architecture and interior design majors will benefit. Also, I believe that nowadays, children of this generation spend all their time indoors, which is not healthy, so a sustainable act such as creating parks will motivate them to go outdoors and do outdoor activities.
    If I were given this opportunity I would take it, and definitely learn from it. I am a practical and hands on learner.
    Its amazing how one can decide to do something and makes a change for a whole world, professor Samuel Mockbee made a decision so that architecture would be appreciated rather than it be just pretty designs.

  21. Justin Champion

    Brevard Habitat for Humanity is a great organization that uses the community to help those right here in the same community. I had the chance to work with Habitat for Humanity last semester and I really learned a lot about how they use the community to build homes for those who need them. Its really amazing how students from high schools and from Eastern Florida state college can come together to help Habitat build these homes. With the use of these students they are able to design a home that is not only beautiful for the community but also usable for the family’s that use them.
    The more we can get students involved in these projects the more we can teach them and give students real life projects that will help them with their futures and help the community grow.

  22. Sarah Blackburn

    I have always liked Habitat for Humanity and how far their outreach goes. I have helped build houses a few times throughout my life with different church groups and youth conferences, but didn’t know that Satellite High did builds too. When my family lived in Virginia the church we attended on the air force base we lived on did a few houses each year in the area. After we moved to Florida, our church in Satellite Beach built houses with a Lutheran association as far up as South Carolina. I was also part of a youth group at our church and another church where we would go to youth conventions to do the same thing. During one gathering in 2008, called M-Fuge, I went to Mobile, Alabama with about 15 other kids and divided into small groups of five we rebuilt houses for people still living in FEMA trailers after hurricane Katrina. Needless to say, I really support the idea of architecture focused on community outreach. I asked my father, an alumnus of Auburn University, about Samuel Mockbee and although he didn’t attend school at the same time, he mentioned that he read about the program in an alumni letter and was impressed with the program Mockbee started. I think that realizing that as a designer you have the responsibility to make the home you are building the best possible fit for the use is more important than making it look a certain style. I also think that it is a realization that is often overlooked in the aspiration to become the next Frank Lloyd Wright (no slam intended against him, just an example). There is no problem with trying to be the best you can be, but sometimes I think it is more important to think of the people instead of the fame.

  23. Danielle Elkins

    Habitat for Humanity and other similar organizations with like minded goals are so wonderful in what they do in bringing together a community. Everyone involved, whether the volunteers, or the family that may be given the home are given something so special by the experience of a community coming together to help each other. The article makes a very valid point that often isn’t thought about- in the design industry it is often much more about “what it looks like” rather than “what it does”. The importance of a “home” (whatever that may be for each individual) is one of the things that attracted me to interior design- I know how important a home is to all of us, no matter if it is simple and humble or grand and extravagant. The Studio at Auburn that this article talks about sounds like a very neat program that everyone who participates in would benefit from. I have not had the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity, but hope to be able to in the future. I think it is neat that the students are given the chance to get out there in the work field, get their hands dirty, and really see how the design of a structure takes shape- it takes it off the paper (or computer screen) and brings it to life.

Leave a Reply