During 1969 and 1970, Danish architect Arne Jacobsen designed a summer house called Kubeflex that incorporated strong references to structuralism. It was a break with centuries of eclecticism, where facades had for a long time been decorated with elements from every thinkable period.
Jacobsen’s summer house consisted of 10 m2 prefabricated cubes, and you could purchase the exact number of cubes that fitted you and your families needs. Kubeflex was primarily intended for the small family looking to buy their first house, or people looking for a summer house. The architecture, which was designed so that it could be adjusted according to your needs and then could later be further modified to keep up with the needs of a growing family, was inspired by the architecture of the 1920s 30s, and was based on the concept of ‘form follows function’.
In simplistic terms, you could compare the concept to Lego, in that blocks could be combined in different ways, albeit, the blocks only came in one scale. However, Arne Jacobsen seemed to have designed the ideal size for the cube with his well-proportioned rooms, albeit still small. All you needed was a piece of land to put the house on.
You could say that maybe Arne Jacobsen was ahead of his time, Kubeflex was exhibited with six cubes at a Danish fair in 1970, but not a single sale was made. Instead, the prefabricated home became the summer house for Arne Jacobsen’s own family. Today, the summer house is open to the public at the Danish museum Trapholt, where it is fully equipped with furniture and appliances also designed by Arne Jacobsen.
The Danish company Vipp is mostly known for their metal bins, which they have been producing since 1939. It is hard to say if Vipp was inspired by Arne Jacobsen’s concept of producing a completely finished concept in the form of a ‘ready-to-go’ house. However, the Danish design company have done just that with their latest product – the Vipp Shelter.
Chief Designer Morten Bo Jensen has designed a house that you can order online. Vipp has always designed following the concept ‘form follows function’, which is deeply rooted in their DNA, just as Arne Jacobsen was inspired to build Kubeflex.
“The Vipp DNA is clearly expressed in the basic concept of the Shelter as a product that is available in a particular form and in a certain colour. It allows us to design the product down to every detail, providing a unique experience of quality, when putting the Shelter into use.”
“In addition to that, the shelter is built on a steel frame with a facade of painted steel – a material we have over 75 years of experience in processing”, explains Chief Designer Morten Bo Jensen, Vipp.
Just as with the Kubeflex house, all you need is a plot to put the Shelter on. Arne Jacobsen’s house is today completely fitted out with his own designs, although you did not get that as a part of the package back then. But, you do that with the Shelter. It comes completely equipped with kitchen, bathroom, furniture and china, bed linen and towels for four people. The entire colour scheme is all planned for you too, and as everything is from Vipp, you can be guaranteed of the quality, of course. They have taken the concept of a prefabricated house to the next level.
“We have made it even easier for the customer – there’s no need to choose your colour, products or kitchen modules, etc. We have taken care of everything beforehand!” says Morten Bo Jensen.
In a secluded place in Sweden, Vipp has already installed their very own Shelter, which you can come and experience for yourself; of course, you need to contact Vipp in order to do so first.
When asked about what Vipp founder Holger Nielsen would say about his technique for bending metal now being used for the making of a house, Morten Bo Jensen answered: “Good design never goes out of fashion! Hopefully, he would have been both pleased and surprised that the seeds he once sowed have grown into what Vipp is today”.
The Shelter is 55 m2 plus an attic, but unlike the Kubeflex house, you cannot add extra elements in order to expand the house.
“It’s an essential part of the concept that the design is completely fixed; everything down to the smallest detail is designed in advance. And over time, we will only add small incremental improvements. We like to call it the Porsche 911 approach” explains Morten Bo Jensen.
With the same approach to their design of the two different homes along the ‘form follows function’ concept, Arne Jacobsen and Vipp have shown that this concept is still as relevant now as it was then. The two houses are not exactly alike in their design, but both showcase the prefabricated house on a new level. What truly differentiates the concept from 1970 to 2015 is that now you can go online and buy a completely finished house by Vipp. ‘One house-to-go’ please!’