As social, economic and environmental concerns converge so prefabricated architecture looks increasingly plausible as ‘the way forward’ for modern housing. And anyone keen to learn a thing or two on the subject would be well advised to pop along to the NY MoMA sometime soon, where ‘Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling’ tells the story, past and present, perfectly.

Prefabricated architecture, NY MoMA

Click here to see more of the exhibition
Factory-produced structures have been something of a playground for architects since the turn of the twentieth century. Each generation has had an impetus to create the perfect solution to the concerns of their time and so the history of prefabricated housing is essentially a history of the modernist architectural ideal also. Be it answering the needs of the post-war boom or experimenting with the possibilities of technological innovation, the bitesize, mass-manufactured structure has throw up different needs and concerns over time.
The exhibition is split into two sections. The first tells the story chronologically through single projects by modernist pioneers – Frank Lloyd Wright, Jean Prouvé and Marcel Breuer. The second part is outside to the west of the museum, where five projects have been realised by contemporary practises to show what’s happening today in this arena.
The most intriguing thing about the exhibition is that so many brilliant solutions have been provided to the ever-present (and ever-increasing) concerns with modern housing and yet we’re all still living in and building permanent structures. The more you see the more you can’t help but think of the subject’s topicality. Laying aside media scare-mongering it’s undeniable that economic and environmental horizons are stormy. So perhaps surveying the 60-odd projects showcased is a bit like browsing in the estate agents’ window for a future home.