The reason I was so looking forward to this exhibition was because it was my first chance to see a building by Rural Studio in the flesh. Rural Studio is not an architectural office but a thread of the architecture course at Auburn University in Alabama. As part of their studies architectural students design, and physically produce, amazing private houses and community buildings at extreme low cost. Each of these wonderful projects benefit the student, who learns more about real building by uncovering cheap materials and actually learning construction techniques themselves; but also the client (from poor rural communities) who get a beautifully designed, affordable new home. I have been a huge admirer of theirs for many years.
Rural Studio’s work at the V&A is called Woodshed and is just that; a single-pitch shed built from wood. It’s actually built from thinnings; a forest management process where smaller constricted trees are felled allowing others to thrive. This is of course an incredibly sustainable but also super-cheap, only £2 per ton…!
The outside of the shed is treated as, if this had been outside, it would need to be protected from the weather, though the inside can remain in it’s raw, beautiful state. I loved the ‘vine’ of lights up one wall and I loved the final note I read beside the work, describing deeper meaning behind the name.
“The word ‘woodshed’ is also a verb. It is an improvisational term used in jazz music meaning to improve one’s technical ability through focus, diligence and repetition, a sentiment echoed in the modular, extendible nature of Rural Studio’s ‘Woodshed’…”