Prefab Fab

When I dream of my fantasy house, I don’t think of sprawling mansions or country cottages, I often think of prefab. Practical and clever, I like to think that they are efficient in design, while elegant in installation. And I don’t mean double wides and trailers. The now passed Home Delivery show at MOMA offered a survey of prefabricated housing, past and present. Fulfilling the need for quick and easy housing, prefab homes have been driven by technical innovation and for the most part, good design. There are plans, models, short films and ads for the actual and unrealized, the most satisfying exhibit being a real (and slightly rusty) Lustron house, a wonder of enamel coated steel, like living in a vintage bread box.

Outside in the 54th Street lot, are modern renditions of the prefab archi-porn, more along the lines of my wee dream house. But not with these kitchens! The tiniest of all was the micro compact home , a bite-size abode more like a hitch-on trailer than a house. One couldn’t enter the diminutive house, let alone stand fully upright. The “kitchen” was barely a strip with an espresso machine and a two burner hot plate. There are a couple of cabinets, which is more than that of System 3. A bump up in size, maybe the size of a shipping container, the kitchen is a mix of surgery and sci-fi, whereas the bathroom embodies prison-chic. Clad in stainless steel the multipurpose peninsula is anchored by the sink from which extends the cooktop. Next to the sink are two Gaggeneau ovens stacked on top of an undercounter fridge. But no storage. I’ll stick to my tiny kitchen, but I’ll take their appliances.

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