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”Better Days” house, 1956


6,5 x 9 m
256 x 354 3/8 in.

ʺOn Quai Alexandre III Jean Prouvé has built the handsomest house I know of: the most perfect object for living in, the most sparkling thing ever constructed. It’s all the real, built outcome of a lifetime of research. And it was commissioned from Prouvé by Abbé Pierre!ʺ — Le Corbusier, after his visit to the prototype shown in Paris in 1956. The ʺJours Meilleursʺ (Better Days) house Jean Prouvé designed for Abbé Pierre perfectly summed up the notion of the mass-produced detached dwelling—lasting, light, economical and comfortable—that he had been working on for almost twenty years. The project also illustrated Prouvé’s responsiveness: faced with a housing crisis, he perfected a model combining his earlier experiments with an innovative building technique and the latest materials in just a few weeks. The construction approach was based on a concept devised with architect Maurice Silvy at Prouvé’s factory in Maxéville in 1952. On a dished concrete base a prefabricated steel central unit housing the kitchen, bathroom and toilet was placed ; the unit supported a pressed steel beam and constituted the substructure. The shell was made of thermoformed wood sandwich panels, and the roof of aluminum slabs that also extended out to cover the porch. The public was as enthused by the idea as professional architects, but this 57m2 house that took seven hours to assemble was too revolutionary for its time: the official approval needed for mass-production was not forthcoming, and only five were ever built.

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