For how many years do we build today? Houses should be built to last 25 to 30 years. What is built in concrete lasts for centuries, it cannot be destroyed again. For urban planners, such long lasting construction is a catastrophe, it blocks potential construction sites […] I’d much rather see buildings for about 30 years (one generation), so that afterward they can be moved or torn down (used again or sold on the second-hand market). Our children will want to do something completely different.

Jean Prouvé

Room 10 Jean Prouvé, École de Dieulouard

Michael Webb

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The Nomadic Constructor: Jean Prouvé and Alain Banneel

by Michael Boyd

Alain Banneel has been central to the construction of several demountable structures by Jean Prouvé, as undertaken by Robert Rubin and others, since 2005 when the Tropical House was retrieved from Africa. The moveable structure went on an elaborate world tour, starting in France, at Presles, in the hometown of Alain Banneel. The project then moved on to New Haven at Yale, where Robert Rubin was studying architecture history. Next the mobile structure was installed in the gardens of the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Then the Tropical House was exhibited in Paris, at Centre Georges Pompidou. Eventually the structure was put up in Nancy, the hometown of Jean Prouvé, first at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Nancy, and then at The Musée de Fer before finally being erected in Brussels, at the Citroen Garage. Alain Banneel supervised and spearheaded each of these installations and exhibitions of the Tropical House. Recently, Banneel installed a Propped Type demountable structure from École de Dieulouard—just like Room 10 offered here but repainted a fire engine red—permanently at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

A room from Ecole de Dieulouard, France installed at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo

One doesn’t sit in front of a drawing board and say: ‘I’m going to build a house like this or like that’. Never has such an idea crossed my mind. Quite the converse, I have always come to architecture asking myself the question: ‘how could I build this construction?’ The religion that the architects follow isn’t keen on this builder’s reasoning.

Jean Prouvé

Éléments de la structure

DescriptionQuantitéLargeur (cm)Profondeur (cm)Longueur (cm)
Porte / Door1883.5210
Montants muraux / Wall uprights8101313
Embouts de support verticaux / Wall end caps2231
Menottes (longues) / Mullion uprights (long)96.56306
Menottes (court) / Mullion uprights (short)566.5158
Mullion avec mécanisme de fenêtre / Mullion with window mechanism466.5159
Cove moulage en aluminium / Cove moulding aluminum16105528
Support en aluminium / Window sash channel8310210
Panneaux muraux en bois / Wall panels wood798138
Étagères avec des crochets d'origine / Shelves with hooks7
Panneau en métal émaillé / Enameled metal panel794233
Section de toit / Roof panel
81043413 meters
Section de toit / Roof panels (for wall sections)2563413 meters
Étagères en bois / Wood shelves1893223
Moulure de bois / Wood molding697.52177
Moulure de bois / Wood molding 18.57.52295

Jean Prouvé 1901–1984

Jean Prouvé was born in Nancy, France, in 1901. Prouvé‘s father Victor founded the École de Nancy, an Art Nouveau school that focused on hand-made objects. Apprenticing with an ironsmith as a teenager, he learned the value of simple forms and metalworking techniques. Prouvé founded his studio, Ateliers Jean Prouvé in 1923 and created restrained metal objects that rejected excess decoration. Within his workshop, he favored industrial materials like sheet steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Engineers employed these materials in the emerging aircraft industry, and these materials inspired Prouvé to design a pre-fabricated houses with Le Corbusier in 1923 that was reminiscent of aircraft design. Working with Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand, Prouvé created breathtaking furniture that forged the process of prefabrication. Prouvé tirelessly focused on finding creative and useful solutions to design problems throughout his career, crafting everything from aluminum vacation homes to university bookcases, living by his words that one should “never design anything that cannot be made.”

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