Sambo, the nickname by which the American architect was known, has entered the exclusive club – of which Thomas Jefferson already formed part – of those who have been posthumously distinguished with the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects. Mockbee, who passed away on 30 December 2001 in Jackson, Mississippi, was a southern and rural architect concerned about the vernacular traditions and the social dimension of architecture. Aiming to address these two interests and with the financial support of the Auburn University School of Architecture, in 1993 he established the Rural Studio, conceived as an initiative to improve the living conditions of rural Alabama and where students design and build for underprivileged communities. The constructions, principally small single-family houses, have a meager budget that is exploited inventively with recycled or waste materials. Sheet from old license plates, used tyres, bottles or hay bales are some of the ‘construction materials’ that have served to transform the constructive logic of shacks into exquisite architecture.