Brandon Wagner


  1. Thank you for introducing Rural Studio,and I find this organizatiion very interesting. Not just because of the work that they have been doing, but also because they reveal how college students can impact the society. I think we should learn from the kind of studio that Auburn University have. At the same time when we are discussing and creating thoughts about nongovernmentality, we should also have some action that actually change the society. Also, I find the questions that you are asking interesting, especially the one questioning how can architecture participate in ethical demands. Surely, architecture can answer to to ethical demands, but I also see a huge limitation. Architecture have little opportunity to change the system from the roots, what it can do is only in an ameliorative approach, and it can only offer immediate help whenever help is needed. If there is poor people that need improvement in housing, architects can only provide immediate help through cheap and nice housing, but it can rarely solve the problem that inherently exists in the roots.

  2. Really intriguing insight of Hale County being defined as the site for Rural Studio.

    What implications does this have for governmentality in Hale County? If the state of low economic achievement in these communities is due to being ‘left behind’ from the race of capitalism, what does Rural Studio say about these structural economic forces? Does the 20k house actually reinforce the label of ‘low economic status’ on the community (by reminding people they can only afford a house worth less than many cars)? How might Rural Studio operate in a way that is un-relatable to this process of labeling-through-economy. It seems to me that when Mockbee was still alive, there was a sense that Rural Studio gave community members who really had nothing, really meaningful spaces to be in, a home to live in, and personal relationships along the way. Does the transformation of experimental building practices rooted in the 1970s-80s environmental design movements into a factory for producing modular housing change the effect or their ability to ‘do good’?

    How do we know how much ‘good’ is enough, and how much is ‘too much’?

    Also, as a side note, I keep wondering, how do these case studies relate to larger issues of Foucaultian critique of governmentality?

  3. I think you ask a very interesting question when asking is there a solidarity between the people of Hale county and the students of Rural Studio. How long did it take? And perhaps, how long does it take to sever? Whether or not this can be assessed, it seems the ideal of creating a solidarity was present in Mockbee’s notion that the students need become part of the community in which they are living, part of the motivation for starting the school in a locale where students would not have other distractions. Mockbee’s intention is not only one of “social responsibility,” in creating architecture for those living in poverty, but a redefinition of how architecture should be created, that is in collaboration and discussion with the future occupants and neighboring community of the structures to be built. This seems to be in direct opposition to the recent development of the $20,000 standardized home. For Mockbee it was not primarily a financial concern driving building processes, while this was embedded by the particular locale and nature of student constructed projects, the transition away from discussion with community based design seems to run afoul earlier studio practices which were design oriented.

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