Habitat tropical with standard timber frame.
This series model is derived from Jean Prouvé’s steel-frame prototype of 1958.
In 1964, the contract for producing six hundred and thirty-eight modules to house teachers and provide classrooms was awarded to Atelier LWD, following an international competition financed by the European Fund.
The resulting programme reflected a clever synthesis of traditional and modern techniques.
Designed on a module principle with 8,75 x 8,75 m as the centre-to-centre distance of bearing posts, dwellings were composed of either one or two modules and classroom buildings of from one to six modules.
As the fruit of collaboration between Jean Prouvé, consulting engineer, and Atelier d’architecture LWD (Lagneau, Weill & Dimitrijevic), this structure illustrates their research targeting a system of industrialized habitat for tropical countries, in particular Equatorial Africa with its hot and humid climate.
Unlike the Maisons Tropicales designed by Jean Prouvé in 1949-50, the process retained did not aim at 100% industrialization of construction, but at the series production of a few standard metal components to be used with local materials, and easy to assemble by local labour.
The prefabricated components were a roof tray and a façade panel in sheet aluminium, made in Cameroun by the Alucam plant at Edea, a subsidiary of the French firm Péchiney-Aluminium, and a folded sheet steel load-bearing post made in France.
The concrete mats, like the gable and façade walls (depending on the model, made of cement blocks or timber sheathing in forest regions) and the timber frame in red hardwood, were built by local labour.
The search for money-saving encouraged reliance on the natural resources of Cameroun and led the architects towards the massive use of timber for the series model, to replace the all-steel prototype designed by Jean Prouvé in 1958, which was too costly.
Most of these buildings have been demolished or spoilt by re-modelling, their fragile aluminium façade panels replaced by cement block walls.