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Jean Prouvé & Atelier d’architecture LWD
(Lagneau, Weill  & Dimitrijevic).

Prototype Habitat Tropical, 1958

Adaptations

A number of changes have been made to this structure to simplify the assembly/dismantling required by new uses.

Originally, in-situ the four load-bearing steel uprights were bolted to concrete soles placed around the concrete mat that defined the interior living space.

These concrete foundations have been replaced by an all-steel demountable base frame composed of HEB girders set on steel jacks, simply laid on the ground, to which the frame is bolted.

A deck in tropical hardwood covers the entire base.

The building is thus without buried foundations, but is perfectly stable and able to resist weather and even violent natural events thanks to the rigidity and size/weight ratio of its structure.

The spacious platform that forms the living space is composed of a parquet floor inside the envelope and by a plank deck on the veranda surround.

A ramp of adjustable height, also made of HEB girders with timber deck, gives access to the terrace.

The two gable ends of the house, which formerly had no openings, have been fitted with fixed side panels that frame a double sliding door mounted on rails, the whole sheathed in broad tropical hardwood boards.

All timber parts are in Okan, a tropical hardwood that is highly resistant to damp creep, borers and fire risk.

To give the interior a higher ceiling, the dropped ceiling in wavy aluminium (known as ‘Ondulite’) used in the original design has not been re-mounted.

Any natural ventilation/cooling thus lost has been compensated by installing two thicknesses of roof trays, which sandwich top-performing insulation.
This change is of course only apparent to the historian.

 

Restorations

This structure is virtually in mint condition, with all the original components.

The frame has been repainted navy blue according to the model.

The six bearing posts have been reinforced with an interior sleeve and repainted navy blue after the model model.

The two gable walls, formerly made of cement blocks on this example, have been rebuilt going on a model observed in Cameroun, a variant with timber gables, too far gone to be salvaged.

Complementary fit-outs per quote

Should the purchaser so wish, it would be possible to re-mount the dropped ceiling in Ondulite to ensure better proofing of the interior living space.

Using the house in a temperate climate would also require other fit-outs, such as the lining of all walls by opaque or glazed sliding panels.

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