Antioch Baptist Church was built as a thesis project by four students of Rural Studio, an Auburn University architecture program in which students design and build buildings in several poor communities in rural western Alabama. The new building replaced a small, remote church, which had been perched precariously on piled stones for almost 100 years and had begun to sag with age.
The students understood that the original building had housed most of the important events of the congregation for generations. Seeing the materials as an embodiment of this, they decided to deconstruct the former building with the goal of reusing much of the materials in the new church. They wanted to allow the historic materials to form a thread of continuity between the old and new. Their process of deconstruction included careful methods and methodical sorting ensuring that materials such as the virgin heart pine would remain functional in the new church. In keeping with the Rural Studio’s ethic of economy and resourcefulness, the project team not only included 75% of the material from the former church, but also incorporated other reclaimed materials from offsite, such as steel beams and concrete masonry units.
In balancing reverence for the old with new invention, the church exceeded the congregation’s hopes.
Reclaimed Materials (by application): Concrete/Masonry, Metals, Wood/Lumber
Location: Perry County, Alabama
Date of Completion: 2002
Architect: Rural Studio