Tate Modern  North Lawn
5 February – 13 April 2008

The Design Museum, in partnership with Tate Modern, brings a house designed by architectural visionary Jean Prouvé to Britain for the first time thanks to New York hotelier André Balazs.

The prototype house, designed by the French architect Jean Prouvé (1901-1984), for 1950s colonial West Africa, will be erected outside Tate Modern. Prouvé House for Design Museum at Tate Modern is an extension of the Design Museum’s current exhibition Jean Prouvé – The Poetics of the Technical Object, the house demonstrates the full scale and vision of Prouvé’s economy of design.

Visitors will be able to walk around this ‘flat pack’ house which was originally erected in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, in 1951. In 2006 the house was found in Brazzaville, in a dilapidated state and riddled with bullet holes. The house was dismantled, returned to France and restored.

Jean Prouvé designed and manufactured three prototype Maisons Tropicales for West Africa between 1949 and 1951. The Brazzaville house is made from folded sheet steel and aluminium.  For ease of transport all the parts were flat, lightweight and could be neatly packed into a cargo plane. 

The Maisons Tropicales were designed to address the shortage of housing and civic buildings in France’s African colonies. Prouvé aimed to design for the demands of the climate and included a veranda with an adjustable aluminium sun-screen. The inner walls are made of fixed and sliding metal panels with blue glass portholes to protect against UV rays. A double roof structure was designed to produce natural ventilation.

Although designed for mass production, the prototype proved no less expensive than locally built buildings and with their industrial aesthetic did not appeal to the conservative expatriate French bureaucrats. So the house exists as a unique expression of a radical architectural vision.

Notes to Editor

Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) was a genius of twentieth-century design. With remarkable elegance and economy of means, he designed prefabricated houses, building components and façades, as well as furniture for the home, office and school.
La Maison Tropicale was purchased by hotelier André Balazs in June 2007. André Balazs is also a patron of contemporary architecture and has commissioned contemporary designers such as Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban, and Richard Gluckman. André Balazs Properties is a collection of innovative hotels and residences that have received outstanding critical acclaim, as well as numerous awards for design excellence.
Jean Prouvé – The Poetics of the Technical Object is at the DesignMuseum until 13 April. A comprehensive exploration of Prouvé’s life, work and ideas, the exhibition covers his early career as a blacksmith in Nancy, France, the establishment of his own factory in the 1930s producing metal components and structures, and his later work as a consultant engineer.
Jean Prouvé – The Poetics of the Technical Object is an exhibition of the VitraDesignMuseum, Weil am Rhein, Germany in cooperation with DeutschesArchitekturMuseum, Frankfurt and Design Museum Akihabara, Japan. The exhibition is supported by Allies and Morrison, Foster + Partners, with additional support from Wilkinson Eyre and Hopkins Architects.
JOINT TICKET FOR EXHIBITION AND HOUSE: Adults £8.50; Concessions £6.50; Students £5; Under 12s free. Available from either Tate Modern or DesignMuseum.
HOUSE OPENING (Tate Modern): Sun – Thurs 10.00–18.00, Friday and Saturday 10.00–22.00EXHIBITION OPENING (DesignMuseum): Daily 10.00 - 17.45
PUBLIC INFORMATION T: 0870 833 9955 W: www.designmuseum.org
ADVANCE BOOKING T: 020 7940 8783 W: ticketweb.co.uk


For further information please contact Tate Press Office:Call + 44 (0)20 7887 8730 / 4939 / 4906 Email pressoffice@tate.org.uk 20 John Islip Street MillbankLondon SW1P 4RG