Samuel Mockbee was inspired by a similar design-build project run by Clemson University in Genoa, Italy.

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Butterfly House

Mason's Bend, AL 1997

Created for the Harris family in Mason’s Bend, AL, the aptly named “Butterfly House” derives its name from the unique shape of the home’s roof. The roof’s two large intersecting rectangles provide cover to a 250-square foot screened-in porch and are reminiscent of a butterfly’s wings. The angled-roof also supplies a means to collect and reuse rainwater in daily cleaning routines and an effective gray water plumbing system within the home. Samuel Mockbee encouraged the students building the Harrises’ house to emphasize the porch area when he realized the amount of time the Harris family spent on their previous six-by-fourteen-foot porch. The Butterfly House allowed the Harris family to live comfortably in an exaggerated version of their previous home. Rural Studio students provided Mrs. Harris, who is handicapped and navigates with a wheelchair, complete mobility within her home by constructing subtle access ramps, wide doorways and low bathroom features. The walls of the home were formed using salvaged wood from a recently razed 105 year-old church near the site.

Dean, Andrea Oppenheimer. Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency. 1 ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.

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