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ON SITE

Jean Prouvé

FINDING MYSELF IN NEW HAVEN last spring, I dropped by the strangely brooding Art and Architecture Building to see how it was holding up. Paul Rudolph’s concrete castle still looks fabulously imposing from the street; the interior, once I found the steep and narow stairs to the entrance, was the dark, cold cave I remembered from a visit to Yale twenty years ago. But here I discovered something quite delightful: a brightly lit shelter made of pale taupe and green enameled sheet metal perforated with blue glass portholes. The shape, color, and substance of the structure gave it the look of an oversize mechanical toy. As it turned out, the little building was purely utilitarian, a prefabricated house conceived and built by the French constructeur Jean Prouvé for use in colonial French West Africa.

Prouvé is best known for his astringently functional, mostly metal furniture, but he was so enamored

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