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Rural Studio at the V&A

[LFA Reports] Last night the hallowed halls of the V&A played unlikely host to a conversation about the work of Rural Studio: the hands-on, experimental education program based in Hale County, Alabama

Spare tires, barrels, bottles, car windscreens and other industrial waste items are the stuff of this ad-hoc architecture, lending community projects their own particular sense of ‘locality’.

Andrew Freear, the British architect who now leads Rural Studio after the death of founder member Samuel Mockbee in 2001, spoke emphatically about the social consciousness of the projects, which include affordable housing, parks, a hospital garden and a youth club. He seemed keen, however, to steer away from the ‘overly sentimental’ regard the Studio has come to be held in and focused instead on the practicalities of achieving funding and resources. Racing through slides in a tight timeframe, he emphasized the importance of building relationships with clients, learning from mistakes and the difficulties of working in one of America’s poorest states.

‘Woodshed’ – a structure built from forest waste wood (or ‘thinnings’) is the latest experiment of Rural Studio and is on display at the Museum as part of the 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces Exhibition, open until 30 August.

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