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Great Detail: Piers Taylor on Rural Studio’s Mason’s Bend Community Centre

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The next in a new series looking at the details which have amazed and inspired our readers. Today: Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio 

Architect: Rural Studio
Building: Mason’s Bend Community Centre, Alabama, US
Completed: 2000

Mason's Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Mason’s Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Section drawn by Piers Taylor

Mason's Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Mason’s Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Detailed section drawn by Piers Taylor

This building is hugely inspirational for me as it takes 100 Chevvy Caprice windscreens from breakers’ yards and uses them to make a screen for a new building for a poor black community in Southern Alabama.

I’ve looked at this building a good deal, as it shows how a scrap material can be successfully used in such a way that it completely transforms it into something completely new that goes way beyond the original material.

It’s a super low tech detail - the holes in the existing car windscreens are used as they can’t be drilled, and then fixed to steel cladding rails with standard bolts and neoprene washers. I haven’t tried to copy the detail as such, but I’ve used it more as example of what recycling can bring to a project.

Mason's Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Mason’s Bend Community Centre in Alabama

When we built our own studio we only used materials that were scavenged or recycled, in addition to the timber that was grown on site - much like this community centre, which mainly uses materials that were either scavenged or sourced extremely locally. It was built for approximately the same cost as our studio - £15,000, and also used student labour in its construction.

I remember my epiphany when I first stumbled upon Rural Studio’s work in about 2000 - they showed me how architecture was possible outside the realms of conventional practice, and showed a resourcefulness that was extraordinarily refreshing in an era when most architects still considered materials abundant and ‘making’ something that only skilled fabricators could do.

Mason's Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Mason’s Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Plan drawn by Piers Taylor

Mason's Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Mason’s Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Detail drawn by Piers Taylor

Mason's Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Mason’s Bend Community Centre in Alabama

Piers Taylor is founder of Invisible Studio

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Rural Studio used to feature heavily as precedents throughout my time at uni, this was a particular favourite of mine too!

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