Star architects known for dreaming up museums, concert halls, and stadiums are aiming to bring high design into a much more pedestrian segment: prefabricated, mixed-use structures.
If you don't want to spring for one of Zaha Hadid's $50 million penthouses, you can now have your own outdoor dining pavilion by the Pritzker Prize winner. Price tag: $480,000.
Made with wood, stainless steel, and aluminum, the curvy piece comprises a platform and a sprawling, perforated canopy, resembling a giant mushroom straight out of Alice in Wonderland. (This is a Hadid, after all.) It will be made in an edition of 24.
Hadid's pavilion was one of two prototypes that led the Revolution collection of prefabricated structures at Design Miami 2015 fair on Tuesday. Produced by real estate developer and art collector Robbie Antonio, the pieces were displayed by ETN Design, a new company of New York art dealer Edward Taylor Nahem. The line will consist of about two dozen spaces by designers and architects, including Ron Arad, Sou Fujimoto, and Michael Maltzman.
“These spaces are both functional and sculptural,” said Antonio, managing director of Philippines-based Century Properties, which developed the country's first Trump Tower. “I came up with a list of functions and offered participants to choose one for their design.” That could include taking tea, meditating, or having an afternoon nap in your vineyard in France.
One pavilion, designed by Gluckman Tang, looks like an elaborate bus stop and is described as a “movable object to display contemporary art.” In a rather meta moment, it displayed renderings of other prefab designs in Miami. It will be produced in an edition of 10, each priced at $130,000.
Moving some of these units may be easier said than done. Four workers toiled for four days assembling Hadid's dining pavilion at the fair, Antonio said.
There were no immediate sales, and reactions were mixed.
In the "love it" camp was Arnold Lehman, former director of the Brooklyn Museum. He said he would have liked to put Hadid's pavilion on his terrace in New York.
“The problem is," he said, "it's about three times the size of my terrace. This is an umbrella for people who have a private beach in Sardinia or on a Greek island.”
Aby Rosen, a real estate tycoon in New York (with perhaps larger spaces at his disposal), said the work didn't grab him.
“It's so hard to place something like this,” he said after inspecting Gluckman Tang's art pavilion, a 12.5-foot-tall rectangular white structure with one wall leaning in at an angle. “It will always look out of context with [its] surroundings. Anywhere you put it, it will look like a spaceship.”
The structures are the first stage of a much bigger project, said Antonio, who declined to comment on whether the pavilions were done on spec or part of a later profit share. The end goal is to create a line of livable prefabricated homes designed by famous architects, complete with kitchens, bathrooms, and funky interior design. With the average unit price of $300,000, the structures should appeal to the broader middle market, he said.
“I've been doing branded luxury towers for a while,” said Antonio, who has worked with nine Prizker Prize-winning architects. “Now I am applying the same approach to the prefabricated homes that are more affordable.”
The concept is not new. Just around the corner at the Design Miami show, Galerie Patrick Seguin is offering a prefabricated wooden hut designed in 1939 by Jean Prouve.
The 4-by-4-meter structure has a steel frame and an exterior lined with wooden panels. Originally, 300 units were produced for the French military. Only this one unit, now priced by the gallery at $2 million, is known to have survived.
“These are being sold as antiquities,” Peter Brant, newsprint mogul, said about the Prouve hut. "It's architectural and very beautiful.”
Will he add it to his design collection?
“I wouldn't be averse,” he said. “I just don't need it.”
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