Book Review: The Prefabricated Home by Colin Davies (London: Reaktion Books, 2005)
In this easy-to-read and provocative little book, architecture professor Colin Davies sets out to do no less than “shed light on the true nature of modern architecture” (7) by placing the prefabricated house at the center of a reconceptualized history of twentieth-century architectural production. Borrowing the term “field” from Pierre Bourdieu, Davies describes the architecture field as “broader and vaguer” than just “the design of buildings”(7), but narrow in its reliance on star personalities, professional jargon, excessive publicity, and the mythologization of its own history. Davies argues that adherence to this position has left the profession unable to assimilate popular notions about architecture and types such as the single-family house; most which, he reminds us, are now designed by non-architects in styles that architects find unappealing. He proposes that the “key to the reform” is an understanding and appreciation of the “non-architectural history of the prefabricated house”(7). This book represents Davies’s attempt to provide this history and to begin bridging the gap between architecture and the consumer-driven home building market.