Jean Prouvé was originally a metalworker by trade, but he became a leading modernist architect himself through collaborating with progressive architects such as Le Corbusier. He is particularly known for making inventive use of industrial prefabrication from the postwar reconstruction years and demonstrating the possibilities of the new technology for not only architecture but also furniture design. In this article series, structural engineer Shin Yokoo, who has been researching Prouvéʼs achievements from both an engineering and design perspective, sheds light on the architectʼs experimental work with windows.
Jean Prouvé was born in 1901 in Nancy, France, and he went on to produce a great number of designs (primarily furniture and buildings) during his lifetime. Influenced by his father, Victor, who led an Art Nouveau school in Nancy, Prouvé took an apprenticeship with Émile Robert and began his creative career as a metalworker. In his late years, he headed the jury of the architecture competition for the Pompidou Center in Paris and contributed greatly towards its realization before he passed away in 1984. In the time between, he continued to actively collaborate with architects and his associates and experiment with new technology and construction methods as he produced design after design for projects that included pre- and post-war mass-producible temporary housing, private homes, public facilities, school buildings, and the furniture to go inside them. He carried out much of this work at his personal factory, Ateliers Jean Prouvé (founded in Nancy and later relocated to Maxéville), which was staffed by some 250 skilled workers. All told, he was involved in 1,456 projects, and 412 of them were architectural.