Jean Prouve

A Tropical House

October 4, 2005 - January 1, 2006


About the Exhibition

Extended! — Due to its popularity, the Tropical House will remain on view at the Hammer Museum through the holidays.

A prefabricated metal house constructed by French designer Jean Prouvé, known as the Tropical House, will be installed in the Hammer Museum courtyard during October and November 2005. Installation of Jean Prouvé: A Tropical House will begin on October 4, and deinstallation will begin in January, 2006. The installation and deinstallation periods will last for approximately two weeks and are integral aspects of the display, allowing the public to observe, first-hand, Prouvé’s notions of prefabricated architecture in practice.

Prouvé designed the Tropical House in 1949 as a prototype for inexpensive, readily assembled housing that could be easily transported to France’s African colonies. Fabricated in Prouvé’s French workshops, the components for the house were completed in 1951 and were flown disassembled to Africa in the cargo hold of an airplane. The house was erected in the town of Brazzaville, Congo, where it remained for nearly 50 years. In 1999, the Tropical House was disassembled and shipped back to France for restoration.

About Jean Prouvé's Tropical House

By Robert Rubin

For nearly five decades, the French designer and constructeur Jean Prouvé (1901–84) built prototypes for industrialized building systems and pioneered architectural applications of steel aluminum and plastic. The son of a founder of L’École de Nancy, an industrial guild of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Prouvé grew up in a culture of craft and collaboration that fed a deep artisanal engagement with materials. Moreover, he trained as an ironworker, not as an architect or engineer. While today he is best known for his furniture designs, he made significant contributions to iconic twentieth-century buildings. His work in and around Nancy quickly led to significant commissions from Rob Mallet-Stevens, Le Corbusier, and other leading modernist architects. As he created ironwork for the most expensive private residences in Paris, Prouvé began his lifelong engagement with the industrialization of architecture, particularly its application to mass housing. More

Jean Prouvé: A Tropical House was curated by Robert Rubin and installed by Alain Banneel and Atelier Banneel; consulting architect for the restoration was Christian Enjolras. The Hammer wishes to thank Cristina Grajales; Mark Lyon; Dean Sakamoto, director of exhibitions, and his staff at the Yale University School of Architecture Gallery for their assistance in this project.

The presentation at the Hammer Museum is made possible, in part, by Sotheby’s and the Cultural Services of the French Consulate in Los Angeles.


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