Learning From The Master – Samuel Mockbee. Lecture by Gregorius Giovanni Gerard.

Published on Nov 5, 2016
We have learnt about Samuel Mockbee who is a co-founder of Rural Studio. Mockbee is an architect, educator, and also an artist. His career as an architect started with a partnership with Thomas Goodman. In the expedient process, he is interested in the vernacular item and learns about regionalism.
In the alchemy phase, He established Mockbee Coker Architect with Coleman Coker. They are interested in 2 issues:
1. Regionalism, especially experiential regionalism and anthropological regionalism
2. Phenomenology that close with hermeneutic
Their explore that issues and make it based of their design approach. Their architecture documented in Mockbee Coker Thought and Process.
After 13 years practice with Coker, he decided to accept Auburn University Offer as a professor. Mockbee recollects, ” Even though
my career had been developing successfully, I did not feel that I was maturing as a responsible architectural citizen.” He through the experiment phase with Rural Studio.
Some question, we discuss are:
1. How Mockbee bridged theory and practice
The separation of theory and practice can be related to the modern transition which is influenced by Galileo and Descartes work, all about logic and limiting the source of knowledge to the sense experience. In Ethics or Moral Philosophy, Mockbee emphasis on the practical aspects of architectural education. As Gadamer asserts, understanding is not a task in itself but always should involve applying the meaning understood in specific settings.
2. What Rural Studio is and how the relationship between Mockbee and Rural Studio is
Samuel Mockbee and Dennis K. Ruth founded Auburn University Rural Studio that focused on the off-studio learning process. Rural Studio builds house and facilities for clients that around hale county. This program gives architectural students a more hands-on educational experience while assisting an undeserved population in Alabama. In the Rural Studio Mockbee’s teaching method relied on a two-prong approach – the classroom, and the community. He said,“It becomes necessary to leave the classroom and enter the classroom of the community.” Rural Studio still continues their work even Mockbee has passed through.
3. How they work
The first project come when Hale County’ s department of human services told Mockbee about many residences and facilities in their region not proper anymore. Mockbee invited his student to design and build it together. Students could apply their theory and design in the reality world that required social, economic, and management skill too. “We eat meals together,” Mockbee said, “work together, study together and they party together. You become a family.”
4. What their projects are and what we can learn from them
Some project we discuss are:
– Bryant House is a home for fisherman. This house use hay bale as the main material for wall. Beside the main building house, they build a smokehouse that uses a scrap concrete from demolished silo. There are dialogue between firm-fragile and solid-void here.
– Yancey Chapel use tire as wall material and covered it with local soil/mud. All the materials are donation. Central Tire Company in Selma donates tire and Hale County Department donate scrap steel.
– Glass Chapel that recycles Chevrolet Caprice window and use rammed earth construction.
– Butterfly house that explores simple technology for energy saving
– and some rural studio after Mockbee died, such as akron boy & girl club, Greensboro Boy & Girl Club, Newbern Fire Station, and Lions Park & Skate Park.
There are some critique from Anna Goodman for Mockbee and Rural Studio.
1. The project design and build by unlicensed architect even architecture student
2. Unpaid work
3. Human services as a gimmick
Beside that, Mockbee challenging status quo and give alternative choices profession in architecture field.
See you on the next event, restless spirit:)

summary by Gregorius Giovanni Gerard
video by Bondan Petra