Defpoints


Prefab tipping point?
July 17, 2008, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Architecture, North America

For me, like all architects, prefab is a tremendously appealing idea. Build it and deploy it—design for the masses—control all elements of the design. But the prefab madness these days is perhaps a tad premature. Sure, we are much closer to the technology and means these days, and the general design sensibility of this country seems to be shifting due to our Dwell-reading, Target-shopping masses. But maybe we’ve reached the tipping point on this, following the Some Assembly Required show at the Walker Art Center in 2005 and the Home Delivery exhibition being installed now at MoMA.

From Architect’s Newspaper:

There’s nothing new about prefab—in fact, it’s often referred to as modern architecture’s “oldest new idea.” But in its current trendiness—widespread glitzy press coverage and the benedicton of a major new exhibit scheduled to open at MoMA in New York on July 20—a handful of architects, investors, large firms, and real estate brokers are still trying to prove that the concept can live up to its hype.

Allison Arieff, author of Prefab (2003), said that people designing 7,000-square-foot prefabs might as well do stick-built. “Prefab for the sake of prefab isn’t going anywhere; that would just continue what some have called ‘the curse of the prototype,’ whereby a great one-off house is built, but no others follow.”

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