Rural Studio has been a good teaching model, which made students get involved on communities as they learn architecture, a good approach to form architect’s that are part of the society. This model, first initiated by Sam Mockbee in 1993, is still being used in schools in the US. A good example of this is DesignBuildBLUFF, a studio taught by Hank Louis (AIA) through the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning.
First year architecture graduate students build a home for a needing family on the Navajo Reservation near Bluff, Utah. During the first semester the students design following the requests of the client, and during the second semester they actually build the house. Because of the remote nature of the sites the buildings are usually required to function off-the-grid. This gives students an opportunity to explore sustainable methods and materials.
DesignBuildBLUFF is a non-profit funded by charitable donations and grants. Building materials are often donated and they seek to utilize the latest in innovative and “green” products.
The Sweet Carolina House (pictured above) built in 2006 won the People´s Choice Award from the AIA Utah Chapter. You can see more on their past projects at their website, and keep up to date on this year´s house fund raising, design and construction on their blog.
This model is also being used by the Universidad de Talca in Chile, on which graduating students need to build their work as part of their final examination, resulting in over 100 buildings that are part of the community infraestructure, growing every year. You can see some good examples: a canopy for wineyard workers (which allowed the wineyard to obtain ISO certification), a lookout for a tourist route funded with goverment funds and rest stops on the landscape across the region.