Heroes & Villians
Happy Halloween. Well if you want to see something scary and not to far off from reality, in terms of what the RIAA has been doing lately, check out the RIAA home searches. Would this really happen? Probably not. But should you be scared of the RIAA? Yes. I remember a while ago looking through an architecture magazine at work and seeing this house made from carpet tile samples. I just remember it catching my eye, but I didn't pay attention to it very closely. This last Sunday on the CBS morning show they featured that house, which happened to be by Samuel Mockbee and part of his Rural Studio. In the world of architecture, Mockbee was a genius not just because he could design well, or use odd materials, but that he used architecture to benefit everyone.
"A true architect practices all three professions simultaneously," Mockbee explains. "The role of an architect/ artist/ teacher is to challenge the status quo and help others see what the possibilities can be."Simply put, he cared and understood what was wrong with the profession.
In the last century of American homebuilding, there may no other time when architects were so irrelevant. Less than 10 percent of single-family residences are designed by architects now, and most of the rest come from mass-produced blueprints that make entire neighborhoods identical. The small percentage of homes architects actually do design go overwhelmingly to the wealthy. And while many charities such as Habitat for Humanity address low-income housing needs, the notion that poor people could ever inhabit unique pieces of architecture anymore is almost laughable.The major problem is that most people want a house that is simply too big. These "McMansions" are nothing special and are filled with spaces that are uncomfortable, have no special character, and reflect little on the owner living there.
It always has been. Architecture addresses truth and beauty and has a moral sense to it. All great art has that, too.Architect Sarah Susanka, understood this and published the Not So Big House which is a great read if you want to understand more about why you don't need so much space. The problem with wanting too much space is going through an architect will cost a lot more on a large house than going with stock plans or a designer. In a country where people want the most bang for their buck, stock plans seem to be the answer. However, when a developer mass produces these plans we get big house after house in developments that look no different from each other. It's mass produced "Anytown USA". With Mockbee he brought architecture to those could just wanted a house. A real architect for the people. He taught his students that as well.
"Whatever I do as an architect will have to have social responsibility," Hoffman says. "The Rural Studio has taught me that."He was a community hero however:
While his public battle against poverty was gaining momentum, Mockbee's private battle with leukemia threatened his life. His first bout occurred in 1998, and on Dec. 30, 2001, the disease took Samuel Mockbee's life. He died in a Mississippi hospital at the age of 57.Sambo (as he was often called) brought architecture to poor people, not just to be a good guy, rather because it was the right thing to do. There need to be more heroes like him.