The Museum of Modern Art announced yesterday that it has commissioned five architects to build prefabricated homes in the parking lot adjacent to the museum where Jean Nouvel’s ambitiously sustainable 53 West 53rd Street tower will eventually rise. Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling will open up on July 20 and feature residences designed by KieranTimberlake Associates, Lawrence Sass of MIT, Douglas Gauthier and Jeremy Edmiston, Oskar Leo Kaufmann and Albert Ruf, and Richard Horden.
MoMA’s Barry Bergdoll, who serves as the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design, told the New York Times that he “wanted a mix of existing buildings and prototypes.” Each design selected for the exhibition places heavy emphasis on sustainable design principles; Horden’s 76-square-foot Micro Compact House, for example, includes rooftop photovoltaics and wind turbines within its walls, while the KieranTimberlake design includes photovoltaics, recycled structural materials, and is manufactured from a steel frame that can be snapped together without the need for welding. Gauthier and Edmiston’s submission aims to create the most complicated prefabricated forms possible using the least amount of material.
MoMA has provided each design team with $175,000, but the architects are free to exceed that figure at their own expense. Once the exhibition opens, visitors will be free to actually enter each residence (other than the prohibitively small Micro Compact House). MoMA’s commitment to prefab (though Mr. Bergdoll has intentionally left this term out of the title of his exhibition) should both demonstrate the commercial viability of prefabricated homes (the Micro Compact House is currently on the market in Europe), as well as their potential for significantly reducing the environmental degradation perpetrated by conventional residential construction. We’re looking forward to both visiting the exhibition once each residence is built, as well as observing the site as foundations are put down in February and the houses begin to arrive by May.