Samuel Mockbee



Hale County, in the state of Alabama, shall always remember Samuel Mockbee, Sambo, an architect who dedicated his teaching vocation to an idea of architecture as a social service. At Auburn University, where he taught, Mockbee in 1991 created the Rural Studio, a pioneer workshop where students learn to build for less fortunate social groups employing recyclable waste materials such as hay bales, tires, and cardboard. In its decade of existence, this unique educational project has provided homes, civic centers, parks, and several other basic facilities to a community stricken by poverty and unemployment. While respectful of the building tradition of the south, this son of a house-to-house shoe peddler did not hesitate to use old license plates for cladding or defective windshields in curtain walls to appeal to the ecological conscience of the citizens and champion a more humanized profession. Leukemia ended his life before Rural Studio could complete the publication of Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency, which takes stock of the workshop’s experiences and philosophy.

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