Shin Yokoo

New
October 22, 2021

Windows of the Prouvé House
|Jean Prouvé’s Windows #2

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.

 

Featured
August 4, 2021

Four Tectonic Features that Reside Within Prouvé’s Window Details

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.