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Prefab Hardcover – September 13, 2002

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Pretty Fabulous: Prefab...provides a much needed look at new ideas in prefabricated housing." -- Architecture magazine, December 2002

From the Inside Flap

Prefabricated house have done a lot to earn their reputation for being cheap and ugly, and indeed, the prevailing vision of prefab--endless rows of cookie cutter structures built with cheap materials and substandard construction methods--is, unfortunately, fairly accurate. But now and throughout prefab's history, there have been many exceptions to the rule. Ground-breaking proposals from architects and designers such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Jean Prouve, Albert Frey, Buckminster Fuller, Sir Richard Rogers, Archigram, Kisho Kurokawa, and Philippe Starck, have emerged since Sears, Roebuck & Co. first marketed their Houses by Mail to the general public in 1908. Prefab examines the fascinating history of prefabricated housing over the last century to reveal a wealth of practical and attractive alternatives to the status quo. Prefab's primary focus is the work of more than twenty-five contemporary architects and designers who are exploring the myriad possibilities that prefabrication offers for housing for the future. From the poetic construction of Shigeru Ban to the industrial minimalism of KFN's portable structures, from the fantastical digitized aluminum prototypes of Greg Lynn to the stylish functionality of IKEA's prefab apartments, Prefab presents a series of innovative homes and concepts that boldly demonstrates how far this much maligned building technique has come, and how fat it can go. In doing so, Prefab endeavors to inspire a change in the way people think of housing and the way the architects, builders, developers, and financial institutions approach it--and ultimately, the way individuals live in it.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith; 1st edition (September 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586851322
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586851323
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Spero on November 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As an architecture student now a working as a builder, I couldnt help but being drawn into this book. Organized into 4 sections: History, Production, Custom, Concept, with a wide array of photographs, plans and renderings cleanly presented. The history section does a great job of bringing any curious reader interested in this subject up to speed, creating a great departure point for the 30 or so contemporary projects that follow it. This book is well researched and really gets you excited about the potential of prefab by presenting a wide range of projects in the U.S. and Internationally, exploring a wide range of techniques / systems being developed today. The future of housing looks bright with prefab!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Garbato on November 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In PREFAB, author Allison Arieff presents an interesting overview of "prefabricated" buildings, past, present, and future. Yet, I would not recommend this book to average modular home consumers, as many of the projects described in PREFAB are highly customized, somewhat eccentric, and generally impractical for those looking to save time and money by utilizing prefab construction as opposed to regular, stick-built construction. Some of the buildings aren't even single-family dwellings, but apartment buildings. Nonetheless, PREFAB is a helpful resource for those who'd like to learn more about the history of prefabricated buildings, as well as the current state of affairs, and in which unusual directions the industry will be headed in the future.

Arieff begins PREFAB with a lengthy (29-page) discussion of the history of prefabricated homes, starting with panelized wood homes in England and the US in 1624, through the American mobile home boom after WWII, and ending with the current state of the industry. The next three sections of the book are devoted to various modern prefab projects. The first, titled "Production," presents "a diverse group of well-designed houses and multi-family dwellings that are either in production, or poised to be." Of the three groups, "Production" is perhaps most relevant to the average consumer; it illustrates the sheer diversity of prefab homes that are available around the world. It also reflects how beautiful prefab homes can be, both inside and out. Next up is "Custom," an eclectic mix of "unique homes by architects less interested in the mass production of houses than in the aesthetic, environmental, and economic benefits of prefabrication.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael Webb on March 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Prebrication was the holy grail of modernism: the ideal way to rationalize the building process, achieve economies of scale, and bring good design to the masses. Sadly, the only manufactured housing to win wide acceptance was the trailer; architect-designed prototypes seldom left the boards. Arieff, who is senior editor of Dwell magazine, hopes that a new generation of architects may succeed where their forebears failed. She documents over 30 industrialized building projects, mostly from Europe, that combine practicality with design excellence. Sadly, it remains true that people who will happily buy one of a fleet of identical cars, become emotional and irrational when choosing their home. (Michael Webb is the book reviewer for LA Architect magazine.)
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Bishop on January 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It looks like a coffee table book yet reads like a dream. This is not only one of the most comprehensive books on the subject, but easily the most lucid and engaging. The authors clearly had fun with the material and manage to convey a good deal of knowledge - including the history and future of prefabricated housing - without a whiff of pedantry or pedagogical claptrap.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By disestablishmentarianist on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
ok, if you're looking for more of a coffee table book than a serious research source. arieff does provide a brief history of some selected prefabricated ventures, but the other 3/4 of the book is of more modern attempts, all of which are not described or displayed as thoroughly as i had hoped. most of the designs are also of doubtful marketability, and the pompous attitudes of some of the designers is off-putting. some pretty pictures, however.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sara on December 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am using PREFAB to help me define differences in prefabrication techniques and this book didn't really help me. There is even a disclaimer attached to the book that states, "We admit to playing fast and loose with the concept of prefabrication here. Many of the houses presented in this book are not prefabricated in the strictest sense of the word. Not all were factory built and assembled. Some houses were built with prefabricated materials like aluminum siding." This gives some illegitimacy to the book. If a building featured in this book has aluminum siding as the only prefabricated piece, then brick suburban homes should be featured as well - at least for consistency.

Saying that aluminum siding is prefab is like saying bricks or CMUs or door frames or sunscreens are all prefab as well. I personally think this statement is untrue. These items are merely standardized pieces to the puzzle - sunscreens put together do not make a building. Prefab is the process of assembling all these things into volumetric modules or panels (SIPs) offsite in a factory.

I do however think the introduction and history were quite informative. Pretty pictures too.
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