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metal, aluminum and wood

8 x 12 m
26.2 x 39.4 ft

In June 1949 while visiting the Ateliers Jean Prouvé and praising the quality of the prefabricated houses, Eugène Claudius-Petit, the Minister of Reconstruction and Urbanism, underlined his determination to encourage the industrial production of “newly conceived economical housing.” For Jean Prouvé, it was the occasion to demonstrate his ability to subscribe to this ambitious new policy and to stimulate the support of the government in the production of a sufficiently large series to enable lowering the real cost of production. Presaging the model Métropole, the prototype for a house with interior cross-beams which was destined for overseas colonies and partially assembled in the workshop, was able to convince the decision-makers of the merit of this process of complete prefabrication developed by Jean Prouvé. The support of French Aluminum and of its commercial subsidiary, Studal, confirmed immediately putting into production this “light and dynamic individual house, which is produced in large series characteristic of industry.” But State order was limited to only twelve “standard” houses, far from the hundreds that would be necessary for jump starting an industrial process. Entirely prefabricated, with a steel structure and sheathed in aluminum, the Métropole house would be artisanally produced by the Ateliers Jean Prouvé at Maxéville with less than 25 units produced: presented as a budget “consumer product,” its qualities of lightness, comfort and transformability do not cover its cost – 40% more than traditional construction – or its peculiar aesthetic, which makes it seem more like an avant-garde object only accessible to an elite.

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