LOOKING BACK # PREFAB HOUSING by WELLS COATES (UK, 1946)

Homes in Frames, Wells Coates’ 1946 project, building 1 Homes in Frames, Wells Coates’ 1946 project, building 2

“Wells Coates designed a modular housing system based on movable units, which could be transported to other locations. These RUP’s (Room Unit Production, 1946) sit in a metal frame structure that could be replicated all over the country, providing multiple living locations. The vision was that dwellings could be ‘ordered off the shelf’ and added to or moved over the years if required, it was the Ikea of modernist architecture but sadly, was never built.”http://www.iconic.com/thinking/labels/RUP.html”

” The lessons of the past can and must be utilised to inform the future which we are presently designing. As clients evolve so will the role of the architects – yet ‘new’ contexts are always mirrored in history. In an era when planning authorities are criticised for being more involved in Development Control than offering strategic visions we can look back to the creation of Britain’s towns and cities from Saltaire to London as the product of private speculation.

As we move away from the creation of estates wrapped in redundant green fringes – littered with ‘no ball game’ signs and gang-mowed into oblivion – to the provision of private gardens and balconies, we can refer to the Victorian mansion flat and urban parks. A skim through history will remind us that the current interest in prefabrication and technology transfer was rife after the Second World War. Wells Coates worked on harnessing the British aeroplane industry to produce steel and aluminium modular houses which were not only prefabricated but could be dismantled at the weekend and moved to a new location offering a ‘home from home’. Before that, Lubetkin at Highpoint I, and Coates again at Lawn Road, created ‘key worker’ housing for an illustrious group of émigrés, and the current obsession with the supply chain harks back to the era of nominated sub-contractors.” http://www.hdawards.org/archive/archive/2002/about/essay/essayfrm.html

“Wells Coates entered the Royal Air Force again at the beginning of 1940, as a pilot officer and served as a technical staff officer, Air Staff in London, in charge of fighter aircraft design. In 1944 he was seconded for three months from the R.A.F. to undertake consulting work for Aircraft Industries Research Organisation on Housing.  He recommended the “sectional unit” type of bungalow, which became the “AIROH” aluminium house. He was released from the R.A.F. in 1945 with the rank of Wing Commander and was awarded the O.B.E. for his consultant work with a team on the de Havilland Dove light transport aero-plane. He went back to live in his studio flat at 18, Yeoman’s Row where he resumed his private practice.

1946 – 1949:

He was a Consultant to Hawkesleys of Gloucester on development of methods for house construction. To follow on from the AIROH house, he invented the method known as “RU?” – “Room Unit Production” (“Rooms into Gardens’ “Rooms into Frame”), and developed a standardised scheme for unit assemblies and constructions of all kinds. (Programme stopped by the government action in reducing building materials and supplies.)” http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1317970/1/309103.pdf

More :: http://designmuseum.org/design/wells-coates

thanks to :: https://www.facebook.com/angel.arq?fref=ts

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