There are so many debates out there about morality education and whether it is “all right” to be wedding learning with an ethical overview. Over at Auburn University’s Rural Studio, there is a program for design students that places morality into their materials–debates and issues aside.
‘Social justice architecture,’ they call it.
Rural Studio started making the 20K house in 2005, keeping in mind the assumption that $20,000 was the total cost of housing someone living on Social Security could afford to pay in monthly mortgage installments. Since then, students have built 12 houses for their rural neighbors, with each design building off the knowledge and real-world experience of the last. The last 20K house built included passive heating and a safe-room in the shower, after the Moore tornado ripped through Oklahoma and killed 23 people earlier this year.
I wonder what the annual statistics are of wasted materials in the average university design program. Hopefully Auburn University’s Rural Studio will set an example to other collegiate schools in crafting a program that takes into account both the theoretical as well as the practical aspect of design. A program like this serves its community, is purposeful with the materials used, and creates circumstances where both the givers and the receivers benefit greatly from the endeavor. Students provide skilled human capital and receive a hands-on learning initiative.
The question remains of how to keep a project like this affordable.
Read more about the project here.