Morphology: Jean Prouvé’s Prefabricated Houses over Time

1924- Prouvé opens up his own workshop in Nancy and begins designing and producing lamps, chandeliers, handrails, and furniture.  His style was set apart from the Bauhaus steel furniture of the time, which used steel tubing.  Prouvé preferred sheet metal, which would be bent, pressed, and then welded.  The Legs of his furniture closely resemble the porticos, which he uses in his later buildings.

Furniture Designs

1930- Jean Prouvé developed lightweight tents and huts that could be easily disassembled and transported.  The tents consisted of an exposed metal frame from which a canvas was hung.  Many of his later constructions had a similar exposed metal framing.

1937- Working with Beaudouin and Lods Architects, Prouve developed the BLPS House.  It was originally designed to be a vacation house, but after the war was used as housing for war victims.  It was light enough to be moved a few times per season, but maintained a certain amount of permanence.

1939 - Prouvé developed prefabricated barracks for French army.  These huts needed to have a certain degree of permanence so the ability to dis and reassemble was put to the side.  The buildings had central porticos, which consisted of two thing vertical elements joined half way up by a brace and at the top by a triangular piece, which the ridge beam fit into.  This structure has developed over time and is the focus structure for Prouvé.

Barrack Section

Barrack Perspective
French Army Barracks
French Army Barracks

1941- Prouve collaborated with Pierre Jeaneret to design demountable houses for various housing projects in France.  They were built on foundations of stone or brick giving the houses a considerable life span.

Demountable Housing

1945- After WWII ended Prouve became involved in a camp programme to rehouse homeless war victims.  Modular portico and external frame huts were constructed.

Demountable House #1, Side elevation
Demountable House #1, Front Elevation

Demountable House #1, Sketches

Demountable House #2, Perspective

1948- Various Prefab colonial homes were developed for the African Colonies.  Many of the house had the portico structure which progressed from design to design.  Other buildings such as school houses and colleges were designed.

Study of Lightweight Colonial House, Section

Study Sketches
Lightweight Colonial House Side Elevation

Lightweight Colonial House Section
Type A Colonial House Section
Type B Colonial House Perspective, 1949

Study of a Tropical House


School House Section, Brazzaville, Congo
School House Perspective, Brazzaville, Congo

1949- Maison Tropicale in Niamey, Niger is constructed as a prototype.  Built to provide housing and offices for the director of the college in Niamey.  The façade is made up of three components: solid panels, panels with portholes and doors.  The interior structure is made up of central porticos,

Maison Tropicale Design Sketch
North Elevation, Niamey, Niger
Side Section, Niamey, Niger
Side Section, Niamey, Niger
Maison Tropicale, Interior
Maison Tropicale, Niamey, Niger
Maison Tropicale, Niamey, Niger

1950- Maison Tropicales in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo are built and connected together by a small bridge.  The smaller building is used for offices for Studal and the second larger building is the residence of the aluminum company’s director.  Unlike the Niamey house, which rests on a concrete slab, the Brazzaville buildings are raised and rest on beam bearing structure with steal panel floors.  The later versions of Maison Tropical also contain the addition of window panels.

Front Elevation, Brazzaville, Congo
Side Elevation, Brazzaville, Congo
Front Section, Brazzaville, Congo
Early Maison Tropicale Structure
Maison Tropicale, Brazzaville, Congo
Maison Tropicale, Brazzaville, Congo
Brazzaville Parts Before Construction

Exterior and Interior Photos
Interior Frame

Maison Tropicale, Paris, France

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