Tuesday, January 10, 2006


M is an exciting letter in the rammed earth lexicon.

First, some bibliographic entries beginning with M:

Mehra, S. H., "Soil Stabilization in Tropical Areas for Mass Construction of Cheap Permanent Housing,"
Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering
Switzerland, Vol. 1, p. 272, 1953.

(um, hello, that just said "Mass Construction of Cheap Permanent Housing." When was the last time you heard anyone say "cheap" and "permanent" in a good way?)

Mehra, S. R., and Uppal, H. L., "Use of Stabilized Soil in Engineering Construction,"
Journal of the Indian Roads Congress, Vol. 15, p. 184, August, 1950

Merrill, Anthony F. The Rammed Earth House. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947

Most of all, M is for our dear, departed Samuel Mockbee:

"The professional challenge, whether one is an architect in the rural American South or elsewhere in the world, is how to avoid being so stunned by the power of modern technology and economic affluence that one does not lose sight of the fact that people and place matter....

For me, these small (Rural Studio) projects have in them the architectural essence to enchant us, to inspire us, and ultimately, to elevate our profession. But more importantly, they remind us of what it means to have an American architecture without pretense. They remind us that we can be as awed by the simple as by the complex and that if we pay attention, this will offer us a glimpse into what is essential to the future of American Architecture: Its honesty. ' Love your neighbor as yourself.'

This is the most important thing because nothing else matters. In doing so, an architect will act on a foundation of decency which can be built upon. Go above and beyond the call of a 'smoothly functioning conscience'; help those who aren't likely to help you in return, and do so even if nobody is watching!'

Mockbee's Mason's Bend Community Center is as proud a rammed earth work as any--and beautifully documented in Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and An Architecture of Decency.

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