Yancy Chapel and Mason's Bend Community Center

Yancy Chapel and Mason's Bend Community Center in Alabama by Rural Studio

This week's dose pays tribute to Samuel Mockbee, founder of the Rural Studio in Alabama and partner in Mockbee Coker, who passed away December 30, 2001 at the age of 57. Featured are text and images from the Rural Studio, including their Mission Statement and two projects: Yancy Chapel in Hale County and Mason's Bend Community Center, both in Alabama (photos by Tim Hursley).

The mission of the Rural Studio 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. The Rural Studio seeks solutions to the needs of the community within the community's own context, not from outside it. Abstract ideas based upon knowledge and study are transformed into workable solutions forged by real human contact, personal realization, and a gained appreciation for the culture.

On a central site in Mason’s Bend, Alabama, thesis students have built a Community Center that includes a transportation stop for a number of county-funded mobile projects such as a "Book-mobile" and a traveling health center, an outdoor area for community gathering, and a small chapel for the local prayer group. This project also involves two alternative building technologies. The walls of the structure are made of rammed earth, a material which is low-cost and environmentally sound. Second, this project employs a solar energy system, researched and designed in collaboration with an Auburn University Professor of Aerospace Engineering.

Yancy Chapel, located on Morrison Farm in Hale County, Alabama, is a thesis project designed and built by architecture students Ruard Veltman, Thomas Tretheway, and Steven Durden. Concerned with being environmentally friendly and cost-efficient, the students decided to build the walls of the chapel out of recycled tires. The tires were filled with dirt excavated from the site, packed down, and then stuccoed over. A nearby tire dealer donated the tires to the project. The roof is covered with tin, with the roof beams salvaged from a barn. Rock, which constitutes the floor of the chapel, was taken from a nearby riverbed. The chapel is set into the side of a scenic overlook, and blends beautifully with the surrounding woods.