Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee (1934-2000)
was the founder of Auburn University's Rural Studio, where part
of the architectural students' training involves living on site
in Hale County, Alabama, while designing and constructing relatively
low-cost structures (many consisting of donated and recycled materials)
to serve the needs of the county's impoverished residents.
When the late Samuel Mockbee chose a rural county in Alabama for
his in situ classroom experiments into providing innovative shelter
for the area's poverty-stricken inhabitants, it was telling that
he chose a district that had no building code infrastructure.
is doubtful that the typical hidebound, rigid bureaucratic building
and zoning departments that characterize many of our cities and
counties would have allowed any of the Rural Studio's structures
to be built, especially those utilizing a "green" architecture
of recycled and discarded materials - even though these buildings
were constructed under the supervision of professionals trained
in the building arts.
principles of building and zoning regulations are not at fault
- public safety and health along with an orderly allocation of
land resources that best protect one's property while providing
for the benefit of all.
our building methodologies become ensnared by self-serving and
bloated bureaucratic intransigence to all but their favorite special
interests and the building status quo: trades, suppliers, officials,
inspectors, insurance providers, lenders, real estate and development
consortiums, politicians and regulatory bean-counters who feel
threatened by anything that falls outside of their profitable
uniform box...a box they have created for themselves under the
umbrella of legally sanctioned bureaucratic control.
generation of architects is facing a formidable dilemma: Those
in control of how and where and if the architect's designs come
to fruition represent a deeply entrenched and entangled web of
influence and collusion resistant to change and demanding obeisance
for inclusion into the system.
the profession overcome the bean-counters' penchant for mindless
conformity to outdated and self-serving regulations, and the bureaucrat's
league with special interests to provide the inspiration and innovation
that is desperately needed in finding equitable solutions to the
housing and environmental crises upon us?
- Daniel John
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©2002 by Daniel J. Bornt,
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