Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses

This exhibition is on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery from April 29 to September 4, 2006, and presents the latest and most exciting developments in progressive prefab home design. Challenging negative perceptions of prefab as cheap, shoddy and homogenous, the exhibition explores sustainable solutions and innovative designs offered by a new generation of architects who are breathing new life into the often maligned form of housing. Using the latest technologies and innovations in building systems and mass customization, the prefab is being reinvigorated as an architectural form, making the homes a viable option for a growing number of people who cannot afford custom-built, architect-designed housing, but desire unique and contemporary shelter solutions.

Using photographic murals, drawings and diagrams, interactive media, animations, video clips, material samples and three-dimensional models, Some Assembly Required brings together eight of the most dynamic prefab designs from the United States and Sweden. Decidedly contemporary in style, these new houses reflect a range of approaches, from a kit of parts for self-assembly and factory-built modules that are delivered whole, to panelized systems that can be combined in different ways and assembled on-site. Unique in terms of architectural exhibitions, which often present prototypes or proposals, the exhibition features projects that have been realized in Sweden, Canada and the United States, and that are available in the marketplace.

Some Assembly Required profiles the work of eight leading designers in the field: Alchemy Architects (Goeffrey Warner, Josh Capistrant, Tomas Weitzel, Shayne Schuldt, Lewis Colburn), Lazor Office (Charlie Lazor), Marmol Radziner + Associates (Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner), Michelle Kauffman Designs, Pinc House (Gran Aldvik, Johan Lionell, Maria Rutenskld), Resolution: 4 Architecture (Joseph D. Tanney and Robert L. Luntz), Rocio Romero and Steven Holl.

The selections reflect a variety of cultural, environmental and economic considerations. For Black Barn, Pinc House of Sweden created a pitched-roof, modern adaptation of an ancient Viking longhouse design. Michelle Kaufmann’s Sunset Breezehouse adopts a variety of ecological approaches to living and building, while Marmol Radziner’s Desert House exemplifies the precision and craft made possible by contemporary manufacturing. Such houses parallel the lifestyles of their owners, who desire more flexible living spaces and want to speed the pace of the building process without sacrificing the quality of materials or construction.

This touring exhibition is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and is curated by Andrew Blauvelt, the Walker Art Center’s design director and curator. Blauvelt will lead a tour of the exhibition June 10 at 2:00pm. The tour is free with the price of admission.

For more information, please visit