Rural Studio is based in the architectural facility of Auburn University in Alabama, USA, which champions socially-driven accessible architecture for all and which practises what it preaches by designing and building community schemes in deprived areas.
Andrew Freear: In contrast to the rest of the other architects that are in the exhibit, we are not a practice of architecture. We are a programme of a school of architecture at Auburn University and we take the students away from the university campus to west Alabama and that programme allows students to design and build public projects from charity homes, community centres, fire stations, parks ... Architects shouldn't just be the playthings of the rich. Architects, I would suggest, can have a bigger vision for society that the environment we live in is so important in shaping who we are and the way we think. We believe that architects can play a bigger role in the way the world is.
Over the last three years we've been looking at a material ... it's the thinnings out of a managed forest. What we're looking to try and do is to imagine building with this material.
AF in Porter Gallery, V&A: We had hoped that you would find it short and then a pitched site, so you weren't quite sure what was the other side. But it was also about making a tall narrow space against that wall.
We are deliberately trying to make a piece that celebrates one material, that it does delight just because it is this notion of taking one material and rigorously exploring that one material, figuring out how to connect it, how to make a habitable space with it. It's a very simple, almost primitive form. It's a mono pitch shed and we're trying to do that mono pitch shed really well, not tricked out, not with fancy gizmos. There's a statement in there somehow.
Danny Wicke: The building is essentially extruded building. It's quite simple, right. You draw this one time and then you multiply it by 49 and that's the building. The brief was a laboratory shed. It's the simplest form. We went through a lot of stages of designs in the process in agreement with the traditional shed and we just amplified the pitch of the roof to be able to make it a little more dramatic.
The building is really a low tech approach to building and it takes really traditional techniques of wood construction used for centuries as well as treatment techniques. For this to exist in nature, the exterior would need to be charred in order to keep from rotting and keep bugs from eating it, whereas the interior, which is protected, is something that can be much more precious and you get a much different experience when you enter the building.
It's going to be really interesting to see how the project changes over the course of the exhibit because the material will shrink roughly 15 cms over the course of the exhibit. The project is designed specifically so you can accommodate that.
Each individual bent which is 15 cm x 15 cm is then drilled and compressed by this threaded rod. That threaded rod runs the length of the structure and combines the entire structure together. So as the structure shrinks, as the wood begins to dry out, then the structure can be tightened down and compressed further.
Through the research at the Studio, we hope that we can come up with an alternative way of low cost and local housing.
I'm building this light picture - it's a vine. I think it's going to be really nice. It basically starts from the root, from the bottom and then as the light grows it branches off and then the lights become the blossoms. We think it's going to be really lovely with something that's pretty utilitarian and simple ... just sort of in the same vein as the project, we hope.
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