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business models, strategies and technologies

Rural design – architecture or growth potential?

Architectural inspiration and opportunity need to go rural – where they can change more

(Design) life in the country

I live in the country, and also run my company from an office in delightfully rural surroundings. Both by choice, I might add.

Unfortunately, however, one of my main sources of both “intellectual” inspiration and visual pleasure lies in modern architecture. I have to admit there ain’t usually much of that in the Danish countryside – regardless of whether the “country” word for you means “stuck out in the sticks/boondocks/back of beyond” or the midst of rural idyll and imagined “good life” simplicity, amid twee backward-looking historicism and an ambience redolent of past glories in which where nothing really changes much. Architectural bedazzlement, simple practicalities (whether commercial or personal) and rural idyllics rarely overlap – and I have the added complication of referring to both Denmark and the UK in my quest for architectural nutrition and nirvana.

Projects like this – and other Grand Designs icons like Nithurst Farm and the Two Cocks Farm & Brewery – are the exception. Faux pseudo-replica stately homes like Hampton Hall and The Ridge simply avoid the issue.

Two Cocks Farm in the UK – modern rural?

From architecture to rurality – and growth potential

If there is a lack of gutsy rural commissions willing to break new ground (literally and metaphorically), the opportunities for ambitious architectural practices may be limited. But although there may not be many gobsmackingly spectacular, groundbreaking architectural gems in the (Danish) countryside, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

One company is taking a different approach by shifting focus from what the house is or looks like to what it does, and the context in which all this takes place. Rural Agentur is a research-based architecture studio that recognises and highlights the multi-dimensional complexity of rural space – jammed in between living in an age dominated by “urban” values and decision-making frameworks, while those of us who live and work in the countryside experience radical transformations of everything rural, with only limited influence – or so it often feels.

Rural Agentur stands out from the architectural madding crowd by specialising in creating space for rural communities, the production of rural space and articulating multi-dimensional rural potential. The company positions itself as promoting rurality as a positive force for systemic change, big-picture-cognisant and SDG-compliant.

Rural Agentur website

Rethinking how to profile an architectural practice

Rural Agentur has its address in Denmark, but is an international network of like-minded movers and shakers in architecture, rural development and other supplementary disciplines. They seem to be rocking a vibrant, attractive and convincing version of the much-misused “think local, act global” theme in order to create sustainable spatial solutions and development processes for rural environments.

One of the more interesting features of the way Rural Agentur puts out its professional shingle lies in highlighting the big-and-small ideas behind the company’s efforts and work. It is the context, intentions and process-centred successes that generate value for the research-based architectural solutions the practice proposes and provides.

we aim at addressing global issues related to the future of rural space

This practice seems to be an interesting example of how an architecture company can rethink its “corporate profiling” and strategic positioning, focusing on purpose and ideas rather than just the traditional glam catalogue of completed commissions, uprooted from context.