Maison tropicale de Niamey

paris archives

1949

In October 1949, Parisians were surprised to discover the Niamey tropical house (one section) displayed on the banks of the Seine at the feet of the Pont Alexandre III bridge, during the Exposition pour l’Equipement de l’Union Française. The house was later flown to Niamey.

Floors and ceilings are comprised of one meter square elements in light alloy section with wood fillers (firwood and linoleum or oak) for the first, or insulated aluminum sheet for the second. Ventilation is achieved through a system (that can be blocked in winter) between the roof and the ceiling. The inner walls are made up of the same modules as the front walls, with double-walled panels (aluminum sheet, plywood or pressed wood) and include the same thermal and phonic insulation.

The electrical installation can be delivered with the construction: in this case, it is totally prefabricated and includes switches and embedded sockets; each room is equipped with a ceiling light and the required sockets. Ducts for pipes and cables are included in the construction.

The sanitary facilities and the kitchen are equipped with SECIP elements: water unit, bathtub, shower tub, sink, bidet, work tops, wall closets. All heating methods can be developed.

The foregoing description applies to the “Metropolitan” type Jean Prouvé house, the “Tropical” type house, which was exhibited on the Quay d’Orsay, differs by a more extended protection against the sun. An overhanging roof forming a veranda is equipped with adjustable shading devices. The aluminum roof efficiently reflects the sun rays. A lot of air comes in throughout the entire length of the rafter beam which forms a chimney with adjustable shutters; In this way the living area is permanently refreshed with constant incoming air. This house represents a surface area of 6m x 6m, circled with a 2m wide gallery.

With the same modular elements, a larger Tropical house with a living surface area of 6m x 22m has just been erected in Niamey where it was shipped by cargo plane.

Therefore, it is possible to extend the basic model and create larger-sized constructions: administrative buildings, schools, hospitals, hotels, etc.

The works of Jean Prouvé have also allowed the development of very useful moveable metallic section walls in light alloy, making it easy to divide up large rooms. The partitions can be rapidly mounted between the floor and the ceiling without any seal, regardless of the type of construction.

They offer extensive combination possibilities: solid panels, glass or screen panels, window or service hatch panels, panels equipped with cupboards, single or double-leaf door-panels, with glass or screen. The panels are held in place by sheet metal rods bent or welded in several directions, allowing the partitions to be mounted on either of the four sides or on all four of them. The top and bottoms of the rods are equipped with suction cups which allow them to adhere to the floor and to the ceiling. The top suction cup is mounted on a slider inside the rod and pushed by a strong coil spring. The whole mechanism does not move if the floors move or the building vibrates as the system automatically adapts to any movements, thereby eliminating the need for the numerous tightening and fixing required by screw-based systems.

The panels are comprised of two bent aluminum sheets fixed together. A 20-mm thermal and phonic insulating, rot-proof and fire-proof mattress is compressed inside the sheet metal. On the bottom, a polished aluminum strip acts as the base board.

The partitions adhere perfectly to the ceiling, even to uneven or rough ceilings: the rod casings include caulking attached to the upper suction cups.

Electricity and telephone cables can be passed through the rods. All the metallic parts are coated with baked paint.

Similar interior partitions have been installed in Château de la Muette used by the OECE.

Applying the same methods used for prefabricated houses, Jean Prouvé used his roofing system to roof a School building in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. Similarly, the entire elevation of Fédération du Bâtiment building, under construction rue Lapérouse, in Paris has insulated window panel infills.

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