One of the most iconic pieces of architect Jean Prouvé’s oeuvre was the 6 x 6 Demountable House, a prefabricated solution to France’s housing crisis during the war-torn 1940s. Its basic construction of wood and steel was easily assembled and disassembled onsite, a feat that required as few as two people.
“It was about putting a roof over your head,” says Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), noting that the 6 x 6 House also lacked the luxury of electricity and running water.
But that was then. This is now.
During the Design Miami/Basel fair this year in Switzerland, at the commission of French gallerist Patrick Seguin who has not one, but two rare demountable houses for sale, RSHP upgraded Prouvé’s design in order to showcase its full potential — in Seguin’s words, to be used as “a perfect holiday retreat.” The architects devised a plan to outfit a 6 x 6 House with the modern amenities of a fully functioning kitchen and bathroom, while preserving Prouvé’s ideals of autonomy and easy assembly. Those invariably led them to prefabrication.
The team constructed the kitchen and bathroom inside “pods,” cylindrical, metal-framed rooms measuring about 8 feet in diameter. They were tightly outfitted with compact versions of standard equipment: modest countertops, a little Vola shower, a compostable toilet, and, yes, even a little kitchen sink. The resulting structure showcased at Design Miami/Basel dually upholds the original’s portability and self-sustainability. It features running water, thanks to the graywater systems installed below the deck of the house, and the sleek, dimmable rings of LEDs in the ceilings as well as the mini-fridge in the kitchen (borrowed conveniently from the houseboat industry) are powered by new adjacent solar panels.
“There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a feasible way of living,” says Harbour, particularly in remote locations lacking infrastructure. These include desserts, jungles, or areas recently struck by natural disaster, or just the weekend getaway of your choice.