On Heels of MoMA Show, a Prefab Exhibition Opening in Philly

September 26, 2008

By Sebastian Howard

From October 17 to 30, a temporary prefab “neighborhood” in Philadelphia will offer an optimistic view of what a revitalized city might look like in the near future. A Clean Break, curated by Minima Gallery, will be a central event of DesignPhiladelphia, an annual series of lectures, studio tours, and exhibitions organized by the Design Center at Philadelphia University. Part of Minima’s show will take place in a vacant lot on South Broad Street, just down the street from Philadelphia City Hall (1901).

The Arado WeeHouse by Alchemy Architects

Photo courtesy of Alchemy Architects

The Arado WeeHouse by Alchemy Architects.

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A Clean Break opens three days before the closing of a similar exhibition in New York City: MoMA’s Home Delivery. According to curators Barry Bergdoll and Peter Christensen, Home Delivery was “about the process of making architecture ... and the process of making an architecture show.” But A Clean Break, for which planning began in January, focuses on how prefab can be integrated, realistically, into a cityscape. As Oliver explains, “We’re asking ‘what is the potential for urban infill?’”

The exhibition will showcase renderings of residences designed by Gans Studio & dArchitects, Studio 804, and Interface Studio Architects, and will be augmented by a pair of assembled prefab dwellings, Alchemy Architects’ WeeHouse and Sustain Design Studio’s MiniHome. Most of the designs are scalable or customizable, and several are already in production. “We’re focused on affordability and existing technology,“ Oliver says.

The show also will highlight the importance of sustainable design in an urban environment. Representatives from the Philadelphia Bike Coalition will discuss the city’s planned bike-share program at an informational kiosk, and a small urban farming system commissioned by Minima will be displayed in the lot alongside the prefab structures.

Alternative energy will figure heavily in A Clean Break. Washington, D.C.’s Reluminati will display its portable, scalable solar power generator, while Brooklyn’s SMIT studio has designed a bus stop covered in photovoltaic film that powers overhead lights and electrical outlets.

A Clean Break is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the exhibition Web site.

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