This building is hugely inspirational for me as it takes 100 Chevvy Caprice windscreens from breakers yards yards and uses them to make a screen for a new building for a poor black community in Southern Alabama. I’ve looked at this building a good deal, as it shows how a scrap material can be successfully used in such a way that it completely transforms it into something completely new that goes way beyond the original material. It’s a super low tech detail – the holes in the existing car windscreens are used as they can’t be drilled, and then fixed to steel cladding rails with standard bolts and neoprene washers. I haven’t tried to copy the detail as such, but I’ve used it more as example of what recycling can bring to a project.
When we built our own studio we only materials that were scavenged or recycled, in addition to the timber that was grown on site – much like this community centre, which mainly uses materials that were either scavenged or sourced extremely locally. It was built for approximately the same cost as our studio – 15K, and also used student labour in its construction. I remember the epiphany when I first stumbled upon Rural Studio’s work in about 2000 – they showed me how architecture was possible outside the realms of conventional practice, and showed a resourcefulness that was extraordinarily refreshing in an era when most architects still considered materials abundant and ‘making’ something that only skilled fabricators could do.
See original piece here