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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Off-site construction, 25 July 2010
By 
Robin Benson - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Prefab Houses (Hardcover)
An interesting, essentially visual, historical overview of prefabricated housing. Looking at some of these houses I find it to believe that they are built from pre-made units. Page 176 features a remarkable looking house designed by Heinrich Hellmuth or on page 190 another stunning home by Manfred Adams. Both houses are in Germany and use laminated wood and extensive areas of glass for walls and the companies that manufacture them offer plenty of choice.

The two authors write a twenty-five page illustrated introduction. This is in English, French and German, which rather limits the space so it fairly zips through the history of prefabs: Sears Roebuck houses by mail (between 70, 000 and 100,000 sold between 1908 and 1940) the Keck House at the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition; Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House; Quonset and Nissan huts and into this century references to CAD; Muji in Japan and BoKlok in Scandinavia; the Quik House (using reconverted shipping containers).

I thought the Intro was just a bit too brief. Nothing about the huge number of different style of units built by the US government during the Second World War to house eight million war workers and their families. This was covered by Hugh Casson in his 1945 Penguin book 'Homes by the million'. Similarly the British experience of building over 150,00 temporary houses between 1944 and 1949 is not mentioned at all. Greg Stevenson wrote a lovely little paperback about the English prefab: `Palaces for the people'. Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 at the 1967 Montreal Expo gets a mention but no photos or plans of the 354 concrete modules that created a worldwide stir among architects.

Essentially this thick chunky book is pictorial survey of fifty-nine housing solutions over the decades. The first is the 1833 to 1840 Manning portable colonial cottage designed in England for housing immigrants in Australia. Overall America gets the biggest historical coverage, followed by French and German buildings in the fifties and sixties. From the seventies onwards houses from the US, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and the Muji House the only one from Japan. Each building has an intro with photos of interiors and exteriors, some with floor plans and other graphics. The landscape format works well and the photo quality throughout is excellent, as one would expect from Taschen. An index is unfortunately missing.

I thought this was an interesting look at prefab houses past and present and looking at the other books on the subject, mostly dealing with contemporary homes, offered by Amazon it seems an expanding area of interest.
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Prefab Houses
Prefab Houses by Oliver Jahn (Hardcover - 25 July 2010)
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