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In this history of Prefabs, discover why these supposedly temporary ‘people’s palaces’ are still loved and admired.

Prefabs came about through the authors’ work and friendship with the people who have lived or are still living in “prefabs”: temporary homes built in the factory at the close of the Second World War. As slums were cleared after the Blitz, there was a pressing need for housing, so successive governments championed prefabrication as a speedy solution. The resulting bungalows with slightly pitched roofs, pretty gardens and all the mod cons became home to hundreds of thousands of people around the country, often those who had not previously had the luxury of hot running water or a fridge. No wonder, then, that they became so loved. These squat little homes were meant to last just a decade – a mere stopgap as the country got back on its feet – but many of the prefabs are still standing, with residents often fighting to hold on to them.

There has been growing public interest in these fast-disappearing houses, and the communities they fostered, so the importance of recording their histories is keenly felt. In the book we recount some of the stories that residents have kindly shared with us – from the first time they laid eyes on their prefabs to their attempts to hold on to their “little castles” beyond their designated “temporary” timeframe.

The success of post-war prefab housing called for a wider look at the role that prefabrication has played in the history of British homes, with particular attention paid to social housing and its developments before, during and after the Second World War. There is also a look at architectural innovation and imaginative design in the field of prefabrication and clever solutions being put forward to solve the housing crisis of today. Fewer and fewer prefabs remain – but you can still spot them here and there, sitting cosily among their big brick-built neighbours, a lesson in thoughtful design, community building and what it means to have a house to call your own.

Book Specs

240mm x 170mm
54 colour and 47 b&w illustrations
124pp

Elisabeth Blanchet is a writer and a photographer. She writes on various topics, with a particular interest in prefabs, Gypsies and Travellers and photography. She is the author of Prefab Homes published by Bloomsbury/Shire Books in October 2014. She is also the founder and the co-director of The Prefab Museum, a museum dedicated to post-war prefab homes.

Sonia Zhuravlyova is a journalist and historian. She has written about post-war prefabs for the Guardian and various architecture magazines.

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