Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Prefab Overview from DWELL Conference

(Spoiler alert: working to resolve deinterlace and frame rate issues on video post.]

"Prefab's Promise":
While putting together an initial package of videos about new architectural trends in New Orleans, one of the more promising topics of interest was prefab: standardized construction on a large scale, job creation, modernist infill, etc. Just a few months after the storm, DWELL Magazine hosted a conference in conjunction with the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The panel featured designers of DWELL homes and designers hooked into prefab's history and/or its resurgence. I stole DWELL's "Prefab's Promise" title, partly because "promise" was the best way to describe the vibe that was in the air. [And, you have to ration your outlay of originality, lest you wear it out.] Everyone was, and continues to be, very excited about the field.
The centerpiece of the conference was a reassembly of Jean Prouvé's 1949 Maison Tropicale. An excellent write-up can be found here about Robert Rubin, the architectural historian who rescued the dilapidated artifact from Brazzaville. I interviewed him and Allison Arieff, although they don't appear in this scaled-down pitch version of the prefab piece. My original intention was to pitch the prefab topic an an entire episode of "Design 360," a somewhat short-lived weekend features program on CNN International. Robert could have anchored a piece with additional b-roll and interviews from the atelier in Paris that originally fabricated the maisons, as Allison's interview could have likewise done for an overview of prefab's resurgence. But like many shows there, once they lost the sponsor, they let the show die, replacing it with "The Art of Life." [In keeping with general cultural trends in the media and beyond, the replacement replaces the theory/design/creation bent of the former program with an emphasis on desire and mere consumption.]
The piece I arrived at for my initial purposes would have been expanded into two pieces: one that focused on the DWELL architects and how they each brought unique personal experiences and perspectives to their respective designs (always need that "people angle" in TV!); the other breaking out Bruce LeBel into a piece about sustainability and the larger, social project of prefab housing. I also didn't get to use my talk with Joel Turkel, nor did I get to talk with MIT's Lawrence Sass about the rapid prototype project he presented.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brad Brooks is an eschatological visionary, or at least from what we see of his past and present projects.

He should be considered armed and dangerously competent in projecting future design values into a new and syncretic american aritecture.