On the Nightstand, 007: Prefab


“Ideally, prefabrication combines traditional materials with contemporary aesthetics to create innovative housing solutions.”


The idea of prefabrication often times has some troubling consequences associated with it in the minds of many architects and designers. The main argument against prefabrication of architecture goes something like this:

“If I design a building once that is then sent to a factory and mass-produced, I’ll only get paid once and the design will be used and re-used until I’ve starved to death.”

^This book does a good job of explaining why that statement is stupid.^

The most valuable portion of the book, in my mind, is the concise history of architectural prefabrication. It discusses the first prefabricated ventures in architecture, successes, failures, and many of the bi-products of prefabricated design. The book then has a selection of case studies that are categorized as production, custom, and concept. These sections cover prefabricated and mass-produced projects, prefabricated projects with an interest in economic and sustainable practices rather than mass-production, and work that has not been or is yet to be realized, respectively.

Verdict: Check it out.

The book is by no means mandatory reading for practicing or aspiring architects, and is in a lot of ways a compilation of material you will have learned about in college. However, seeing how pieces of architectural history were informed by experiments in prefabrication is rather interesting and has made for an easy read. The case studies all have wonderful photographs, while only some have plans, sections, diagrams, construction drawings, or any combination thereof.

I believe it is important to note that one of the authors of the book is (or was at the time of publication) the Editor-in-Chief of Dwell magazine, Allison Arieff. Needless to say, the text and project selection is excellent. 

On the nightstand


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