Rural Studio at twenty

Written by: Andrew Freear & Elena Barthel with Andrea Dean

Things to know about the book

"Rural Studio at twenty" is a great non-fiction read for those interested in architecture, enjoy the design stand point of houses, or take satisfaction from beautiful buildings. Throughout 288 pages the book balances descriptive information with captivating images to perfection.


Rural Studio is a 3 year design and build program offered at Auburn University. The book showcases the transformations, achievements & goals of the program over the last twenty years. Rural Studio started off small but has become a renowned movement over time. The Studio has helped better the economically depressed area of Hale County and has built a strong relationship with the people there; improving on an over all sense of community. So far the team has completed over 150 projects and educated over 600 "citizen architects". The philosophy of Rural Studio is that everyone, rich and poor, deserves the benefits of good design.

Societal Theme

I think this book embodies the idea that one persons passion can make great changes in the world. What started out as an experiment has made huge improvements in the lives of many people. Since 1994 The Rural Studio has installed 5 public parks, 16 $20k houses, 16 house rebuilds, over 40 public buildings (fire house, townhall, library, etc) and numerous projects within projects. Through the studio the community has gained strength that seemed impossible just years ago.

Why I read it

I read this book because I want to explore the world of architecture in more depth and because the $20k house project caught my attention.

Good last read?

If I had to pick my last read I would choose something more calming and satisfying personally, instead of trying to improve my knowledge.

3 Things I Loved

I loved the amount of detail provided when explaining the mission of the studio, the crisp photography, and the overall layout and organization of the book was aesthetically pleasing.

Anything I disliked?

I'm happy to say that nothing about the book was displeasing.

How I connected with the text / my favorite quote

I connected with this book through my over all love of beautiful and purposeful architecture; and my favorite quote defines my passion for architecture perfectly: "The Rural Studio philosophy suggests that everyone, both rich or poor, deserves the benefit of good design." This quote could not be more true. Some people, like myself, have a design oriented mindset. I see buildings as works of art. Things come to my mind like "Why is that building oriented a certain way, why did they place the front door to the far left". I think the Studio does a wonderful job of making everything purposeful, unique, and visually pleasing. It is the epitome of a good design, and reading about/ seeing how their efforts are coming together could not make me happier.