September 18, 2008

Fabricating and Delivering the Modern Home

A flatbed truck carries Cellophane House™ components to the assembly site in midtown Manhattan.
© Albert Vecerka/Esto

On September 15, NPR's Morning Edition featured a segment detailing The Museum of Modern Art exhibition Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling. A conversation with Assistant Curator Peter Christensen covers the rich history of prefabrication and the five full-scale prefab homes, including our Cellophane House™, currently on view at the Museum.

Prefab: From Utilitarian Home To Design Icon 
by Jim Zarroli 
Some of the world's most famous architects have tried to use mass production techniques to design houses.  
Now, an exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art explores the history of the prefab house. The exhibit comes as computer design is revolutionizing the way prefabricated houses are constructed.

Innovative Design For The Masses? 
With its current exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art is hoping to change how prefab is seen and show how much promise it has.  
Bergdoll notes that computers have ushered in an era of "mass customization," allowing, say, Nike to produce enormous quantities of shoes while still allowing buyers to personalize them with individual features such as team logos and colors.  
"You can do the same thing by exactly the same means with a prefabricated house," he says. "So, we can send computer files directly from an architect's desktop to a laser cutter or other type of machine in a factory that will literally cut the parts that have just been designed. That can be done with computer programs that build in all sorts of variables. So the same program that's designing, say, an individual family house can have any number of what architects call parameters or variables."  
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