|Prefabs, Elisabeth Blanchet and Sonia Zhuravlyova, Historic England, 2018, 115 pages, 54 colour and 38 black and white illustrations.|
For a relatively short time in the post-war decades prefab bungalows were a familiar building type in towns and cities up and down the country. The foreword to this book by the former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock shows that prefabs were often also a step up in living standards for the people who moved into them and that they offered a chance for residents to progress in life. We later find that Admiral Lord Alan West spent his childhood years in a prefab. Other prefab residents emerge as engaging personalities fiercely attached to their homes.
The authors trace the origins of prefabs in plotland developments and in early experiments in the later 19th and early 20th centuries such as ‘homes fit for heroes’ after the first world war. The book cites examples from the USA as well as the UK. Prefabs came into their own, however, as an answer to an acute housing shortage after the second world war. The book charts the various types of prefab systems, some of which, such as the AIROH house, developed to exploit surplus manufacturing capacity in aircraft factories. Other prefabricated systems developed by companies such as Wates, or, in the case of housing in the Scottish islands, imported from Sweden, provided longer-life houses.
The book diverges into consideration of prefabricated systems in high-rise housing, and their role in future housing provision and in emergency housing. Significant as those subjects are, these chapters loosen the overall coherence of the theme of the book. Finally, the authors describe campaigns by residents to save prefab bungalows, and the preservation, listing and improvement of prefabs. An appendix lists the various prefab systems used in the post-war decades.
Prefab bungalows are now a rare building type, so the value of the book for conservation is limited. They are, however, significant in the history of housing and planning in the UK. Perhaps the key contemporary message of the book is that decent housing is a vital component of individual advance and social progress.
Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Architectural styles.
- British post-war mass housing.
- Historic building.
- Housing Defects Act 1984.
- IHBC articles.
- Kit house.
- Modern methods of construction.
- Modular buildings.
- Off-site construction.
- Offsite manufacturing.
- Plug and play skyscrapers.
- Ronan Point.
- Types of building.
- Y:Cube development in Mitcham.
A mapping tool that provides contractors and their suppliers with a central database of local Materials Exchange Platform (MEP) projects to help cut waste by finding a home for unused materials has been launched.
An air raid shelter, a pillbox cleverly disguised as a roofless cottage, a rare Chain Home radar defence tower, and a war memorial have been granted protection.
A planning application has been submitted by Derby City Council to knock down the Assembly Rooms – which has played host to the likes of Elton John, Iron Maiden, Take That, etc.
Specifically tailored for conservation projects, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has launched two brand new professional services contracts.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has made a dramatic intervention into the zip wire row which has divided people, politicians and businesses in the city.
The roof of the Elizabeth Tower (also known as Big Ben) is slowly becoming visible again from 28 September 2020, as part of the scaffolding is removed.
The IHBC lists quality providers of education and learning in the historic built environment, and emails a monthly recap of their upcoming events.
On Læsø, houses are thatched with thick, heavy bundles of silvery seaweed that have the potential to be a contemporary building material around the world.
For the first time in its history, England’s largest festival of heritage and culture will feature online events as well as in-person activities. Heritage Open Days (HODs) returns in September, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) shows the scale of the ‘missed opportunity’ if we continue to separate heritage policymaking and economic policymaking.