The $20000 House

This week, I’ve been reading and catching up on the Rural Studio blog (the Rural Studio is a part of the school of architecture at Auburn, and what I love most about it is that the whole idea of it is to improve the living conditions of people living in the poorest areas of Alabama by designing what Sambo Mockbee called an “architecture of decency” (books about RS are here – I wrote more about the RS here back in August of ’05)).

The RS blog documents one of their current projects – designing a $20,000 house in Hale County, Alabama. The idea behind the $20k house is that the federal government makes what’s called a “502 loan” to people with low incomes who live in rural areas – and the maximum amount that can be borrowed is $20,000.

The latest post is about finding a client for the prototype, and one person they recently met with is a woman who is sleeping outside her home because the conditions inside are so poor. They’re already putting together a design for getting something up for her quickly.

The ideas discussed in their blog make so much sense…they’ve considered things like an “I” design house, where the house has a central core that would minimize things like plumbing expense while leaving an open feel to the house, and other cost-optimization ideas like if it would be possible to have the core pieces pre-fabricated and sized so that they would fit in the bed of a pickup truck for transport.

There’s a page here with pictures of RS projects from 1993 to the present (residential, public, and religious) – they’re beautiful and clever, full of character, and inspiring.

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