The world of prefab and modular homes.
  May 2007
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$6 million prefab up for sale

Link to $6 million prefab up for sale

On Wednesday the New York Times published an article about the classic prefab Maison Tropicale up for auction:

"Tomorrow, the Maison Tropicale, a small aluminum-paneled house built in 1951 by Jean Prouvé, a French designer and the current court favorite of well-heeled contemporary art and design collectors internationally, is being opened to the public for preview in Long Island City. Christie's, the auction house, will offer it for sale on June 5. The presale estimate is $4 million to $6 million."

That article touched off a flurry of posts around the blogosphere about the house and its sale. Treehugger's Lloyd Alter shared his thoughts and linked to an earlier article all about the home:

"One of the most remarkable experiments in prefabrication was Jean Prouve's Tropical House, designed and built in France and airlifted in 1951 to be assembled in Brazzaville, now the middle of a war zone....Treehugger...learned from him that the process [of] assembly and dissassembly is hard on the house and its fittings, so this may be one of the very few chances to see this masterpiece. Prouve is under-appreciated, his work in building and furniture design is brilliant."

Tropolism tried to visit the house and reported back:

"The located in Long Island City, on a plot just south of the Queensboro Bridge. Update: After running over there today, I can report that the dates the house is open are May 17-June 5, 2007. No hours were posted. It was locked at 11am today."
Inhabitat covered the house today on Prefab Friday:
"The Maison is plug-and-play: there was never any plumbing, and it is wired for electricity. It ships in six containers. Christie's is compiling a short list of potential bidders with substantial properties in Mustique, Antigua, the Hamptons — name your playground — who might like a 59-foot-by-32-foot-by-16-foot-tall folly/outdoor sculpture/guesthouse/vintage metal toy to park on the lawn, with a designer label attached."

Apartment Therapy mentioned the home. Erratica excerpted the NY Times article and some of the NY Times images. Prefab Update posted the same images.

The Christie's auction lot shared some more details on the home:
• all load bearing parts in bent steel sheets, all covering parts in bent aluminum sheets
• the interior steel floor covered with modern iroko and rubber boat decking (not designed by Jean Prouvé) replacing the original linoleum
• with two modern access stairs (not designed by Jean Prouvé) and with original connecting platform

The home's early use of factory-built parts jives with Jean Prouve's character, as discussed in this International Herald Tribune article from last year:

"Prouvé described himself proudly as a 'factory man,' while his friend, Le Corbusier, dubbed him an 'architect-engineer.'...'He considered the availability and economy of materials, he developed tooling for production, and he aimed to optimize efficiency, but this has been forgotten....The young Prouvé longed to become an engineer, but, as his family could not afford the training, at 15 he was apprenticed to a master blacksmith.

He studied under two of France's most gifted blacksmiths, Emile Robert and Szabo, both of whom produced 'art metalwork': wrought-iron grilles and doors in ornate floral shapes....Prouvé followed his father's design principles: 'Learn about the past; never plagiarize; always use the most up-to- date methods.'"

Related Posts:
   1. Maison Tropicale to be displayed in London (Jan 25, 2008)
   2. Maison Tropicale sold for $4.97m (Jun 06, 2007)
   3. This week: more Maison and more treehouses (Jun 03, 2007)
   4. More pictures of the Maison Tropicale (May 22, 2007)
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