WRITING / DESIGN / DIRECTION / PRODUCTION
Rural Studio is a design-build architecture program based in Newbern, Alabama, as a satellite campus of Auburn University. But it is also so much more than that. It's an increasingly self-reliant community being built by way of practical (and beautiful) design, always prioritizing local needs and effects.
My colleague Randy Rubin and I were commissioned by the Rural Studio team of Andrew Freear, Elena Barthel and Xavier Vendrell to create a film for their installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale, which runs from May to November 2016.
Currently all 22 minutes can be seen only in Venice, but here's a teaser:
The objective of the video was to focus on WHY each Rural Studio project exists, as opposed to existing profiles on the school that focus on 'what' and 'how.' The project amounted to five stories that investigate Rural Studio's motivation to create the particular buildings in Hale County, Alabama that they have.
Hale is one of the poorest counties in the United States. The projects Rural Studio students design and build respond directly to its needs: a fire station responds to high home insurance rates, a Boys and Girls Club targets after-school crime, and a product line of affordable, well-crafted and locally-sourced homes address the region's reliance on mobile homes that depreciate quickly and profit only an outside economy.
For their installation in Venice, Rural Studio extended their architectural assertion at home: that understanding the needs of the community and the appropriate architectural response is possible only by building relationships and learning from within the place. As such, they created "The Theater of the useFULL," a temporary installation made of materials that are 'in transit,' and will be delivered to two social organizations in Venice once the Biennale is complete in November. These organizations, which have been working locally for decades, and are up to the challenge to take on the battles of the Venice.
Rural Studio is a remarkable program full of great people. Collaborating with them was a pleasure!