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Ionel Schein

©François Lauginie

  • Maison tout en plastiques, Salon des Arts ménagers, Paris, 1956
  • Drawing
  • Crayon de couleur sur papier
  • 25.5 x 20 cm
  • 997 22 19 b

Maison tout en plastiques, Salon des Arts ménagers, Paris, 1956

In April 1955, Ionel Schein designed the first “all-plastic house” in collaboration with Y. Magnant (engineer) and R.A. Coulon (architect, professor at the Collège de France). In February of 1956 a life-size example was built and presented at the Paris Household Arts Show (Salon des Arts Ménagers), with the display drawing over 200,000 visitors. The French and international press – over 6,000 newspapers and magazines – gave wide coverage to the event. The house was financed by the Charbonnages de France (state-owned coal mining and processing company) and the Houillères du Nord (coal mining company) which saw in it a spectacular way to promote the vast number of possible applications for plastic materials derived from coal. Fourteen types of plastic were utilized in its construction. Schein advocated the use of these revolutionary materials for three main reasons: their ease of implementation, lightness and the speed with which they can be reproduced. Thus, by industrializing flexible dwelling modules in new forms, Schein was encouraging occupants to determine the organization of their own interior spaces. For Ionel Schein, plastic architecture was the architecture of life. Inspired directly from nature, the snail-like plan of this house is a major departure from the orthogonal plans commonly used. Plastic materials allow for complete control of forms and enable the dwelling to develop according to an organic pace of growth: “Plastic materials can now enable the expression of a biological style” (Ionel Schein).

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