Andrew Freear, from Yorkshire, England, is the Wiatt Professor and director of Auburn University’s Rural Studio. Freear lives in a small rural community in Hale County, West Alabama, where for nearly two decades he has directed a program that questions the conventional education and role of architects.
His architecture students have designed and built community buildings, homes, and landscape projects for under-resourced local towns and nonprofit organizations. Freear’s role has been liaison and advocate between local authorities, community partners, and students in projects such as 40 acre Lions Park, a Headquarters for Scout Troop 13, and a Boys and Girls Club in Greensboro, where a design eye brought into focus the health, welfare, and education of at-risk youth in the community. Similarly, Newbern Volunteer Fire Department, Newbern Town Hall and Newbern Library were much needed capital-improvement projects achieved to support local public institutions in the Studio’s hometown. Rural Studio Farm has the very practical goal of producing food for forty students and illustrates the fact that rural, historically agriculture-based regions are becoming food deserts. The resultant severe health problems and the suburbanization of rural towns are a contemporary form of poverty that designers need to acknowledge. Since 2005, Freear’s students have built over twenty prototypes of the 20K rural house: a regionally based, site-built economic engine and alternative to the factory-built trailer.
Freear lectures about Rural Studio across the globe.
He has designed and built Rural Studio exhibits at the Whitney Biennial, the Sao Paulo Biennal, V&A in London, MOMA NYC and most recently at the 2016 Milan Triennale and the Venice Biennale.
In 2006 Freear was honored with The Ralph Erskine Award, administered by the Swedish Association of Architects and conferred upon an individual, group or organization for innovation in architecture and urban design with regard to social, ecological and aesthetic aspects. In 2008 he was a Laureate in the second edition of the Global Awards for Sustainable Architecture in Paris and he was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture for 2016