The architecture students at Auburn University’s Rural Studio prove that well-designed homes can still be affordable, thanks to their initiative called the 20K Project. The undergraduate program advocates for social justice through architecture, and to demonstrate this, students have created sustainable and low-cost dwellings for the rural poor. After a decade of design and build experience, Rural Studio is hoping to take their structures to mass production—starting with its first two homes built at the New Urban village of Serenbe, located in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia.
The homes built by Rural Studio are modest, but provide valuable independence for low-income individuals and families. Each structure is a one bedroom/one bathroom detached dwelling that measures around 500 square feet. Clad in corrugated metal and timber, they are elevated on piers and designed with passive heating and cooling in order to keep the utility costs low. One home can be built for $20,000 (hence the project name), which is considered affordable for potential homeowners living on Social Security and are unable to qualify for commercial credit.
Rural Studio has entered into a mutually-beneficial partnership with Serenbe, a high-end community. Although the two seem like unlikely collaborators, the Serenbe’s land offers the students a place to test their 20K Project in real-world situations. They are given their first chance to work with a commercial contractor and see the project through construction, zoning, and code compliance—all the way to completion. In return, Serenbe’s Art Farm now has two live/work studios that they use as housing for their artists residency program.
All images via Sunshine Sachs.