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Rusty Smith and The Rural Studio


If asked to describe what architects do these days, many might reply that they "design jagged and shiny art museums" or perhaps that they "erect ridiculously self-indulgent monuments in unsustainable desert cities". Okay, that second one might have been my own subconscious poking its yappy little head out. Seriously though, the common sentiment of "starchitecture" seems to be one that's hard to shake these days. But this isn't to say that architecture has lost it's way.

There are still those who are working to propagate the type of architectural knowledge around the world that focuses on real local solutions for real local problems. Rusty Smith (of the Rural Studio) is one of those architects, and he just so happens to be stopping by OCAD this Wednesday evening to talk about such solutions.

Mr. Smith is an Associate Professor as well as the Chair of the Program of Architecture at Auburn University School of Architecture in Alabama. On top of this, he is also an Associate Director of a program called The Rural Studio which was originally conceived as a method to improve the living conditions in rural Alabama through architecture and design.

Using what they call "context-based learning", students in the program are asked to leave the confines of the university environment to take up residency in Hale County, Alabama. Their ultimate mission, as described on their website, is "to enable each participating student to cross the threshold of misconceived opinions to create/design/build and to allow students to put their educational values to work as citizens of a community." In doing so, students are exposed to communities living well below the poverty-line, and learn first hand how design can be used as a tool to lift the lives of those in need.

There is, of course, far more worth mentioning about the work being done by Rusty Smith and The Rural Studio participants, so make sure you drop by OCAD this Wednesday evening to get the full story. It should prove to be a rather inspiring evening.

Rusty Smith's talk entitled, Inside the Rural Studio: The Responsibility of Citizen Artists and Designers, begins at 630pm in the OCAD auditorium (RM190). Admission is Free.


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