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There are few advantages to the grinding rural poverty of much of America's south, but Andrew Freear, who runs the highly acclaimed Rural Studio at the University of Auburn in Alabama, has managed to find one. Speaking at the RIBA last week, in one of the talks associated with the Architectural Review's Emerging Architecture Awards, he explained that however dissimilar his students' imaginative designs may be to conventional buildings, they have no obstacles placed in their way by state bureaucracy.

'The local authority has no money to employ a building permit inspector, ' Freear explained.

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