The Prouvé House is an intriguing example of a building that was made by piecing together leftover parts from past projects. In the second article of this series, Shin Yokoo examines how Prouvé incorporated ideas from his earlier work into his home and breaks down the designs of the windows that are unique to this project.
Was Prouvé an Architect?
Jean Prouvé was an autodidact in architecture and was never formally licensed as an architect in France. This was part of the story behind why he always collaborated with other architects. Moreover, his wide-ranging collaborations on works from furniture to architecture led to further blurring his classification as an architect or structural engineer. He has hence been labeled in a variety of ways. Most famously, Le Corbusier wrote about him as follows in Modulor II: “And here is M. Jean Prouvé who represents, in a singularly eloquent manner, the type of the ʻconstructorʼ—a social grade—not yet accepted by law but actively wanted by the era in which we live.”1 Reiko Hayama, a Japanese architect who worked for Prouvé, also translates the word “constructor” using the neologism “kōchikuka” (構築家, constructor), as opposed to “kōzoka” (構造家, structural engineer) or “kenchikuka” (建築家, architect), in Kōchiku no hito, Jan Purūve [original title in French: Jean Prouvé: Par Lui-Même]. Kenneth Frampton, who was early to point out the progressiveness of Prouvéʼs work, refers to him as an “artisan/engineer” in Modern Architecture.2 However he may be described, there was only one building project that Prouvé planned, designed, and constructed on his own in the manner of a true architect during his lifetime: the Prouvé House (French: Maison de Jean Prouvé), his private residence in Nancy. As it happened, he undertook the project immediately following his departure from what was his personal factory and the base of his creative activities.