The work of Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio is, and I hesitate to use the word from the risk of sounding overblown, legendary. A firm believer in the credos that “everyone, no matter whom, deserves the benefit of good design,” the studio has been producing engaging and conscious work for decades out in the counties of western Alabama. The Glass Chapel is a great example of their work. Using recycled materials, rammed earth, and striking wood beams, the Chapel is a marvelous space within, pulling one upward and forward with a great quality of northern light. It is at once exciting and comforting. Outside, the overlapping forms strike a complex pose, and especially with the rammed earth walls it speaks of an extension of the landscape, as though a rock formation pushed itself up.
It is a locus, a space of gathering.
Architecture is not just window dressing, architecture is not just the plaything of the well-to-dos to be collected and traded amongst themselves, architecture is not an unimportant extravagance, it is the purview of everyone, everywhere, everyday – and the Rural Studio embodies this in spectacular fashion. All with a touch of whimsy, and all done on what might be termed “shoestring” budgets.
Design happens here.