F 8x8 BCC Demountable house with Pierre Jeanneret, 1941
Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé’s F 8x8 BCC house was a successor to the projects begun in 1939, themselves based on the axial portal frame principle developed by Prouvé in 1938. Produced in very limited quantities in 1941–1943 under extremely difficult wartime conditions, this small demountable wooden building illustrates the inventiveness and savoir-faire of a remarkable duo. The technical and constructional attentiveness that characterized the architect Pierre Jeanneret found a perfect aesthetic match in the approach of constructor Jean Prouvé: theirs was a manifest complementarity fueled by mutual understanding and inspiration. In 1940 the Grenoble-based Bureau Central de Constructions
(BCC)1 was commissioned to produce accommodation for engineers working for the aluminum component manufacturer AFC.2 The first site, at Saint-Auban in the Hautes-Alpes département, would be home to a small series of houses. On the verge of completing their urgent building program for the aluminum producer SCAL3 at Issoire, in the Auvergne, Jeanneret and Prouvé now brought the same methods to bear in an increasingly complicated context: against a background of mounting transport difficulties, the quotas for materials – steel in particular – were shrinking every day, obliging the pair to come up with ever more ingenious plans for minimization. Ultimately they succeeded in meeting the client’s requirements with an “all wood” version: well-made housing that was temporary but comfortable. For both Jeanneret and Prouvé, adapting to extreme circumstances meant the chance to vary the uses of a proven technique and optimize the capacities of any given material. Here the result met their exacting aesthetic standards and represents a showpiece in their unrelenting quest for authenticity and modernity.
1. Set up and directed by Georges Blanchon, the Bureau Central de Constructions brought together the skills of an architecture agency, a design office, and a general building contractor. Its creation in October 1940 officialized a working association dating back several months between its founding members.
2. Alais, Froges, Camargue.
3. Société Centrale des Alliages Légers (Central Light Alloys Company).