Yale School of Architecture Takes a New Look at "Pre-Fab" Construction

“Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses,” featuring the work of eight contemporary architecture studios, will be at the Yale School of Architecture from October 27, 2006, to February 2, 2007. The show, which originated at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, demonstrates how far prefabricated homes of the digital age have come from the “straight-off-the- assembly-line” look of the mid-20th century.

“Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses,” featuring the work of eight contemporary architecture studios, will be at the Yale School of Architecture from October 27, 2006, to February 2, 2007.
The show, which originated at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, demonstrates how far prefabricated homes of the digital age have come from the “straight-off-the- assembly-line” look of the mid-20th century.

Weehouse

From the black barn in the style of a Viking longhouse, by the Swedish firm Pinc House, to Steven Holl’s shimmering metal-clad Turbulence House (pictured on the cover of a recent New York Times Magazine), each building bears the idiosyncratic stamp of its designers. Yet all of these prototype homes, offering a range of options that can include building material, interior structure and overall dimension, can also reflect the taste and particular needs of their owners.

The firm Resolution: 4 Architecture, for example, makes three different types of prefabricated modules—communal living spaces, private spaces for bed- and bathrooms and accessory units for storage and outside additions—that can be configured in a variety of ways. For their model house in this exhibition, the modules were customized as a mountainside vacation home, but the same prefabricated units might be arranged to serve a different function in another setting.

Another type of “prefab” is the “panelized” system, such as that offered by FlatPak, the Minneapolis-based firm started by Blu Dot principal and Yale School of Architecture alumnus Charles Lazor. Using 8-foot single-story panels as the basic building unit, clients are able to work with FlatPak architects to design their own homes from almost limitless combinations of materials and configurations. The customized components of the house are transported to the building site in flat cartons—the signature packaging system of mail-order furniture company Blu Dot.

Other prefabricated models featured in this exhibition include Rocio Romero’s corrugated-metal LV Kit Home; the Sunset Breeze House of Michelle Kaufmann Designs, which boasts a private garden off every major room and a central, glass-enclosed living area; and the Desert House of Los Angeles–based Marmol Radziner + Associates, which, unlike “panelized” or kit houses requiring onsite assembly, is delivered as a completed product straight from the factory. Finally, there is the one-room Weehouse from Alchemy Architects, a single module that can stand alone or serve as the starting element of larger Wee houses.

Yale School of Architecture will be the only regional venue of “Some Assembly Required.”

A related three-day symposium, “Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture,” will take place at the School of Architecture on October 27–29. Scholars, architects, planners and designers will examine how contemporary practices of production are reshaping the design/construction process, especially as it relates to fabrication, detailing and ultimately the organization of labor. The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, with a keynote address delivered by Kenneth Frampton at 6:30 p.m.

All events will take place at the Yale School of Architecture. The hours for the Yale School of Architecture gallery are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, visit the Yale School of Architecture web site or call 203-432-2288.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345