A figure whose work blurred the line between the mathematical and the aesthetic, French industrial designer, architect, and engineer Jean Prouvé (8 April 1901 – 23 March 1984) is perhaps best remembered for his solid yet nimble furniture designs, as well as his role in the nascent pre-fabricated housing movement. His prowess in metal fabrication inspired the Structural Expressionist movement and helped to usher in the careers of British High-Tech architects Richard Rogers and Norman Foster.
Jean Prouve: The Latest Architecture and News
The dream of universal affordable housing has been an idea tried and tested by architects throughout history. From the wacky Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller, an imagining of how we would live in the future, to mail-order houses able to be assembled like IKEA furniture, many proposals have tackled the challenge of creating affordable housing or dwellings which could be replicated no matter the time and place. However, although their use of techniques such as pre-fabrication and cheap materials seemed, in theory, to be able to solve pressing issues of homelessness and the global housing crisis, time and time again these proposals have simply failed to take off. But why?
IKEA’s research lab SPACE10 is attempting to find an answer to this question through open-source collaboration. By releasing their design of a micro-house that used only one material and one machine to make it and an accompanying website that catalogs the process and invites feedback, they are inviting architects, designers, and aspiring home-owners to work together in creating a solution which could improve the lives of millions. “The vision,” they say, “is that by leveraging the world’s collective creativity and expertise, we can make low-cost, sustainable and modular houses available to anyone and, as a result, democratize the homes of tomorrow.”
In March 1972, an article in The Architectural Review proclaimed that this structure was “probably the best building in Paris since Le Corbusier’s Cité de Refuge for the Salvation Army.” The article was, of course, referring to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s first project in Europe: the French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, France, built between 1967 and 1980. Having worked with Le Corbusier on the 1952 United Nations Building in New York and recently finished the National Congress as well as additional iconic government buildings in Brasilia, Niemeyer was no stranger to the intimate relationship between architecture and political power.
With Design Miami/ Basel 2017 well underway (from June 13-18), ArchDaily has compiled a list of the best architect-designed furniture pieces on display at the event. This year, notable items include works by MAD Architects, Christ & Gantenbien, Trix & Robert Haussman, John Lautner, Jonathen Muecke, Jean Prouvé and Sou Fujimoto.
In this video, one of Jean Prouvé's famous 1944 demountable houses - in this case a 6-meter by 6-meter variation - is rapidly constructed on a beach, showing off the design's ruthlessly efficient structural system and sequence of construction. The video is one of a series in recent years, almost always published in a time-lapse format, that show off how quickly this early example of mass-produced, temporary social housing could be put together.
The video, as with others before it, is an interesting look at such an early example of small-scale modular buildings - but with the advances made in material and manufacturing technology in the 70 years since its design, the building is hardly a revelation in how to create buildings quickly and cheaply. So what's behind all this interest in the Prouvé demountable house?
Jean Prouvé’s 1944 design, the 6x6m Demountable House has been adapted by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) for Design Miami/Basel 2015 at the Galerie Patrick Seguin. Originally designed to rehouse war victims in Lorraine, France, the Demountable House was built entirely of wood and metal, and could be transported and assembled by two people in a day. The new adaptation, led by Ivan Harbour of RSHP, is reimagined as a holiday retreat, complete with a bathroom and kitchen pods and service trolleys providing hot water and solar energy. Read more about this adaptation after the break.
Designers are trained to consider the context for a finished building, but often neglect to consider the construction phase. When architecture is primarily judged based on the impacts it has on their surroundings once they are built, what can be learned from the process of building? The time-lapse is a method that can help architects to do just that, as it can capture years of complex development in a matter of minutes. This can uncover patterns of impact on social and economic levels, as months to years are played back over several minutes.
What is shown by time-lapse videos, though, can be as disturbing as it is interesting; when uncovered, the construction process is a revealing process, and the ramifications in regard to energy consumption can be as monumental as the buildings themselves. The time-lapse allows the viewer to get a better understanding of the types and amounts of materials being put into the construction of buildings, and the impact construction has on its immediate surroundings. By comparing time-lapse videos of different projects, what insight can we gain about how the physically generative process of architecture affects people and place?
Jean Prouvé’s Demountable House, a rare early example of a prefabricated housing concept, was fully assembled and on display to the public last week at Art Basel Miami 2014, just in time for the design's 70th birthday. The display was part of Swiss luxury brand Bally's tour of the original 1944 structure, with its next and final stop scheduled for Design Shanghai in 2015. This fascinating time lapse video reveals the full construction process and gives us an inside look into how each component of the house comes together, from the floor boards to the structure of the roof, to the final exterior cladding. Check out the video above to see Prouvé's structure come together, or see images below of the completed structure.
Marking the second edition of Design Shanghai, this year’s exhibition will take place March 2015 and will include over 300 exhibitors across three halls; Contemporary Design, Classic Design, and Collectible Design. Featured among the confirmed installations is Jean Prouvé’s Demountable House, a rare early example of prefabricated housing.
French architect Jean Prouvé is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most influential designers, and is known for combining bold elegance with economy of means in a socially conscious manner. He is also recognized for his manufacturing firm, Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, where he designed and produced lightweight metal furniture in collaboration with some of the most well known designers of the time. One such designer was Pierre Jeanneret, a Swiss architect and furniture designer who often worked with his more famous cousin, Le Corbusier.
Read on after the break to learn more about this year’s featured exhibition.
Inside France's "Modernity, Promise or Menace?" - Special Mention Winner at the Venice Biennale 2014
This year's French Pavilion stood out as one of the best pavilions in the Giardini, communicating a clear, engaging thesis and receiving a Special Mention from the jury.
Curator Jean-Louis Cohen poses four questions throughout four galleries, demonstrating the contradictions that fill the story of modernity and architecture in France. The ambivalent responses of architecture to the original promise of modernity is shown through the juxtaposition of a continuous cinematographic montage (playing simultaneously throughout all four galleries) and large-scale objects.
Watch an excerpt from Teri Wehn Damisch's film and read the curator's statement after the break. For a virtual tour of the space designed by Paris-based firm Projectiles, follow this link. And make sure to keep an eye out for our video interview with curator Jean-Louis Cohen (coming soon).
The design of gas stations is mostly stripped down to that required for bare function. The inextricable relationship of the aesthetics of modernism to that of the automobile begs a different approach, one that fulfills the traditional function of a gas station but also reflects shifting movements within design. Just like the cars that have driven up to utilize them, these gas stations represent design principles contemporary to the time in which they were constructed.
Indeed, a team composed of 3 persons will take care of the set up of this reference of demountable architecture on the booth on a daily basis – from 11am to 7pm – unveiling each day the absolute modernity of this project. At night, a second team will be in charge of the taking down and crating of each of the elements composing the house (portal frame and ridge beam, exterior joint covers, facade panels, metal floor structure…)
For the nocturne on Thursday 16 June the gallery will organize the set up, dismantling, and crating all in one day. More information and images after the break.