Quick, easily-assembled and affordable, the prefabricated houses designed by Jean Prouvé never reached the mass production they have been conceived for.
For the seminal self-taught architect and designer, there wasn’t any structural difference between a piece of furniture and a building. Accordingly he ” developed a “constructional philosophy” whose artifice-free aesthetic of functionality and fabrication applied the same principles to furnishings and architecture”. Quote from Patrick Seguin Gallery.
The research on prefabricated dwellings began in the 1930’s and had a turnpoint after WWII, when the program was intended to help in solving France housing shortage, after the devastations of the war. The structures could be easily assembled on site in only one day by two or three people (watch timelapse video below), and could be later modified, dismantled and moved whenever needed. Although Prouvé limited the design to only two basic materials, (wood and steel), to be directly shipped to bomb-devastated villages, the shortage of materials and funding (and the official emphasis on the need for permanent housing) never let the program of 160 dwellings go beyond the limited series stage.
The structural principle of the house is based upon a patented axial portal frame, made entirely of bent sheet steel, as were as the floor joists and the roof, unusually made of slabs. The module of 8 meters was based on the capacity of the big bending press in his workshop, which machined 4-meter sheets of steel to produce the components for house frames and envelopes. The reduction of the grid to to 6 meters was demanded by the Ministry of Reconstruction and Town Planning (MRU).
Here’s a selection of images from the 8×8 Demountable house, recently rebuilt after 70 years during Design Miami. (watch video).
Visit Galerie Patrick Seguin site for other examples: 6×6, 6×8, 8×8, 6×9 Demountable Houses, (1944-1945) F 8×8 House BCC Type (1942), Metropole Aluminium House (1949), Les Jours meilleurs house (1956), Ferembal House (1942), etc…