In the 19th century, architectural pattern books brought design (albeit primarily neoclassical and Greek Revival) to the masses. Equipped with a basic skill level and these instruction manuals that came complete with plans and renderings, builders from New York to New Orleans could create facades of Ionic columns and decorative cornices.
Auburn University Rural Studio’s $20K House project is the architectural pattern book’s modern-day counterpart. The project challenges students to design and build homes for $20,000 or less. The goal is that builders will eventually replicate these prototypes for hopeful homeowners who live below the poverty line and thus qualify for a federal rural development loan.
In 2008, students Drew Coshow, Robert Douge, Abigail Grubb, and Steven Ward designed the Pattern Book House. Nestled in a wooded area of Greensboro, Alabama, the house is a log cabin for the 21st century that harks back to the how-to books of yore both in name and with its own building manual, currently in the works.