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Historic prefab: Marcel Breuer's Plas-2-Point house

Link to Historic prefab: Marcel Breuer's Plas-2-Point house

Periodically we like to look back at early prefabs. Architect and furniture designer Marcel Lajos Breuer (1902 - 1981) was a contemporary of Jean Prouvé (1901 - 1984). In 1942, Breuer designed the info_smallPlas-2-Point as "easily transportable, low-cost housing for returning GIs".

More details from a University of Oregon research paper:

This building was in fact never built, but is well documented as a pioneer in prefabricated housing types because of its ability to be mass produced with all the benefits this entailed in terms of cost improved quality, and above all, given post-war demand, rapid production....

The "plas-2-point" design was not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it was eminently practical. It owed this practicality to the fact that it was demountable, meaning one unit could be picked up and moved to another foundation with minimal effort, and conceived as an assembly line product that could easily be mass produced and shipped all over the country.

Two features make this house unique in its design and construction. First, it rests on two short piers (see foundation plan), thus avoiding the need for expensive foundation and cellar costs that are common to nearly all housing types.

Second, and probably most interesting, is that it is entirely supported by two vertical posts at the ends of the structure. These posts hold a central plywood girder that, in turn, supports cantilevered plywood trusses which form the roof and floor. The side walls are made of rigid plywood panels that are in tension, holding down the roof like a tent.

This construction system allows for all the forces to be resolved internally and transfered down to the ground at two specific points, thus becoming cost efficient in the reduction of materials needed in construction.

Those interested in the home's structure should read the full paper.

designer: Marcel Breuer
how: complete modules

author: Tony Salas and Steve Bolinger
length: 1,150 words
date: Spring 1995

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