Friday, March 7
Maison Tropicale/Jean Prouvé
One of the three examples made of Jean Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale has been moved from France and set up outside the Tate Modern where it will be on show until April 13.
Recently restored, the house was found in a poor state of repair in 2000 at Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo. It was then taken to France for restoration. The design, which represents an important part of Prouvé’s work on prefabrication, dates back to 1959 when the French government commissioned a study for an economical and transportable building unit (for housing and civil buildings) to be used in the West African colonies.
The designer responded with a house made from foldable sheets of aluminium and steel that was easy to dismantle and store in a cargo aeroplane. In relation to climatic characteristics, the small building has a veranda with a moveable sunscreen, internal walls made from sliding metal panels and round holes filled with coloured glass to filter UV rays, and a double-layered roof to provide natural ventilation. Unfortunately, the goal of mass production was never achieved and it now remains as a threedimensional icon of an architectural utopia. S.M.