Nouvel’s Prefab House

Prefabricated Shelter


The prefab shelter has been one of the obsessions of modern architecture, but the fruits of this obsession have been meager in terms of social and economic impact. As a matter of fact, prefabricated dwellings – except in their most profitable and banal versions – have become bona fide exercises in style, and in this area they have had a fate resembling that of those steel-tube furniture pieces that the moderns aspired to introduce into workers’ homes, but ended up as expensive design objects. The quest for the prestige associated with authorship raises the frequency of industry collaborating with architects of renown so that they can design their own versions of the elemental house. A case in point is Revolution Precrafted, which, after working with Massimiliano Fuksas, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Zaha Hadid, and the like, recently presented a refuge designed in collaboration with Jean Nouvel. Named ‘Simple’ and aluminum-clad, it is an easy-to-assemble module and it can take any size with 40 square meters as minimum and 160 as maximum. Simple recalls Jean Prouvé’s 6x6 Demountable House, but takes on a more elegant outline besides being more flexible thanks to a system, inside, of mobile partitions. New York’s Museum of Modern Art, ever alert to these questions, may already be thinking of adding this house to its collection of art works. In the meantime, Ikea has installed more than 15,000 units of its Better Shelter. Weighing 169 kilos and costing US$1,200, it is the most efficient materialization, so far, of the modern dream of a prefabricated shelter.

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