Students of Architecture at Auburn University’s Rural Studio have already garnered national attention for their innovative home designs that cost just $20,000 to build.
Now, they’re is winning global accolades for their extensive work designing and building civic facilities for poor communities in Alabama’s Black Belt.
After constructing rural Newbern’s first civic building in more than 110 years, Rural Studio students continued their work, building the Newbern Town Hall in 2010-11.
Built of native cypress wood from an Alabama swamp, the town hall is “a celebration of the material,” says the studio’s executive director, Andrew Freear.
And the rustic design has not gone unnoticed by the global architecture community.
It was voted 2014 Public Architecture Building of the Year by readers of ArchDaily, the most visited news site for the international architecture community.
The ArchDaily ranking included 3,500 projects in 14 categories from around the globe.
Another Rural Studio project, the Safe House Museum in Greensboro, won third place in public voting for World-architects eMagazine Building of the Year American-Architects 2013.
Rural Studio students of Architecture restored the museum’s two existing “shotgun houses,” linked them structurally and added a space for an art gallery. The museum’s shotgun houses are part of the state’s civil rights history.
In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. sought refuge from the Klu Klux Klan in one of the museum’s “shotgun houses.”
Students of architecture working on the museum project were Chris Currie, Cassandra Kellogg and Candace Rimes. Those working on the town hall project were Brett Bowers, David Frazier, Mallory Garrett and Zane Morgan.
Other Rural Studio projects include economical homes for low-income homeowners, public parks, a skate park, sports fields, gardens and the Newbern Library, still under construction.
Founded more than two decades ago, the Rural Studio is meant to provide students of architecture real-world experience and serve as an outreach program for Auburn University’s school of architecture.