Robert Cain's significant body of work originates from an intense interest in exploring and synthesizing the seams between his commitment to sustainability, his love of his region's vernacular architecture and the clarity of modern design.
Southern farmland roots have engendered within Mr. Cain a respect for the responses he observes in vernacular solutions. In the vernacular he often sees purity that is comparable to the best of modern design and he is intrigued by the synergies achieved in combination. Cain's rural houses, as well as his Folk Pottery Museum, are milestones in the development of his unique style of melding vernacular forms and sustainability with the rationale of modern design. As a student at Auburn University Cain was a contemporary of D. K. Ruth, Sam Mockbee (founders of the Rural Studio) and other students who were strongly influenced by Auburn’s straightforward approach to architectural education. Victor Papanek’s Auburn lectures on “Design For the Real World, Human Ecology and Social Change” inspired Cain’s lifelong explorations in furniture design and subsequent application to buildings of lessons learned.
During the 1970's and early 80's Cain, as chief designer, led his firm and region into the world of energy efficient design with award winning cutting edge projects. Virtually all of Mr. Cain's subsequent projects have been founded in ecological principles. Within the LEED® For Homes pilot program Cain designed RainShine, the first modern residence in the southeastern United States awarded LEED® Platinum. RainShine has been extensively awarded, nationally televised, internationally published, heavily toured, filmed and is popular at all levels of digital discourse.
For each project, Robert Cain seeks and evolves its essence into pragmatic architecture. He creates environmentally appropriate solutions through meticulous analysis of site, context, microclimate, responsible use of materials, and impassioned attention to detail. Careful manipulation of natural light and views shape Cain's formal concepts, enrich human enjoyment of his constructed spaces and blur boundaries between inside and outside.
Cain's distinctive approach to design has been broadly recognized, his projects receiving numerous local, state, national and international design awards. Cain’s broad ranging creativity and seemingly regional vision attracts considerable attention beyond locale. Architectural schools around the world seek permission to use his projects as case studies.
His philosophy and design approach stimulate international notice and impact, extending the influence of good design throughout the world. Transcending style, the purity, elegance and simple beauty in his solutions hold universal, direct and immediate meaning for global audiences.