Cube Prefab by George Nelson

wayback header image


Full Disclosure: George Nelson is my favourite designer and I am sitting at a George Nelson desk. But besides doing wonderful furniture, in the sixties he tried his hand at modern prefab, and some of the ideas are relevant to today.

According to Science and Mechanics, "Nelson’s group threw out the old-fashioned and inefficient ideas inherent in many of today’s conventional houses. They concentrated their thinking on greatly improved performance, mass production materials, extreme flexibility and a minimum of building parts."

nelson cube house interior photo

"Easy Mobility and a minimum of on-site labor are necessary before homes can be truly factory-built and sold over the counter with anywhere near the same success as automobiles or refrigerators. The Industrialized House, by using only two basic building units and a variety of wall panels, fills these requirements.

The minimum number of parts could be manufactured on an assembly line and stocked in regional warehouses. You could shop in a store, pick out the building units you need, then have them delivered to your lot after having standard utility hook-ups in-stalled at the site. Package units for heating or all-season air conditioning, kitchens and baths would fit into each cube as desired and would be independent of any large, overall system. A day after the components arrived, you would be living in your new house.

Nelson cube idea image

Then, suppose your company transferred you to another part of the country. Instead of going through the delays, expense and mental turmoil of selling your house and finding another, you could simply take down your cube house and ship it to your next location, along with your personal goods."

Nelson house plan image

"Nelson’s solution was to separate the rooms and join them by corridors made of the smaller extender units. Since the cube house offers complete design freedom, it can be perfectly adjusted to the building site to provide the desired seclusion and quiet. The separated rooms also solve the problem of ventilation in areas where year-round air conditioning will not be built in."

Light. Moveable. Recyclable. Minimal. What could be more modern than that? ::Modern Mechanix

More visions of modern in Treehugger:

1939: The Electric House of the Future
Total Furnishing Unit by Joe Columbo
Wayback Machine 1951: Marcel Breuer's Trailer House
Wayback Machine 1946: Airform House by Wallace Neff
Wayback Machine 1968: Haus Rucker Co. Inflatable Retreat
Wayback Machine 1937: Affordable Modern Prefab
Wayback Machine: A House of the 21st Century- From 1954

Related Content on