It is clear that a people’s image of “house” is a cherished and entrenched cultural value, so innovation and the visionary ideas of architects are not readily accepted. This is one of the main reasons for the repeated failure of industrialized building. Others have been cited as inaccurate reading of the market, excessive profit expectations, inappropriate use of materials, and professional inertia. Nevertheless, experiments continued to the end of the twentieth century. American architect Wes Jones designed the Technological Cabins in the High Sierras for two Californian academics, using standard steel shipping containers as the module, fitting them out before transporting them to the site, and assembling them to form the house. A similar approach at De Fantasie in the Dutch new town Almere, in the late 1980s, proved disastrous from a climatic point of view. Also in the United States, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk have maintained the link between the manufactured house and its environment by applying New Urbanism principles when assembling units in a Rosa Vista, Arizona, home park. Perhaps the answer lies in the approach taken by architect Deborah Berke, who assembles modular units to create the conventional and familiar spaces of North American house types.

See also

Archigram; CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture); Unité d’Habitation

Further reading

CIAM. 1944. International Congresses for Modern Architecture. Proceedings of first 9 conferences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Facsimile.

Cook, Peter, ed. 1972. Archigram. London: Studio Vista.

Winter, John. 1994. “Jean Prouvé.” In Contemporary Architects, edited by Muriel Emanuel. New York: St. James Press.

Inka road system


The brief but glorious ascendancy of the Inka lasted for about sixty years from a.d. 1476. At that moment their empire, Tahuantinsuyu (Land of the Four Quarters), was the largest nation on earth. Ruled from the Andean capital, Qosqo, it covered 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) north to south and 200 miles (320 kilometers) inland. The empire’s northern quarter, Chinchaysuyu, extended beyond what is now Colombia; the southern quarter, Collasuyu, reached as far as central Chile; the eastern quarter, Antisuyu, included the eastern Andean foothills in modern Bolivia and Argentina; and the western quarter, Guntisuyu, embraced the Pacific coast.

A critical means of sustaining Inka power over subject peoples was a system of primary and secondary roads whose total length has been estimated to be 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers), comparable to the communication infrastructure of the Roman Empire, and achieved without the advantage of the wheel or large draft animals. Quite apart from the variety of the terrain, the Inkan transportation network was a great engineering feat, and the response to that diversity—mountains and valleys, snow, deserts, and swamps—makes the accomplishment the more remarkable. Near the coast they were dusty tracks, sometimes built on causeways to keep them free of blown sand or sometimes simply pegged out; in swamps they were built on stone viaducts; and in high rain- or snowfall regions they were paved with cobbles or flagstones. Steep slopes were negotiated by means of steps, often cut into the living rock.

The roads sat within a hierarchy, at the apex of which were the two north-south royal, or Inca, roads linking Qosqo with the four quarters of the empire. One crossed the Cordillera from what is now Colombia to Argentina, and the other followed the coastal plains from northern Peru to northern Chile. They were linked by several crossroads. The rest of the primary network consisted of “principal” or “rich” roads and “big” or “broad” roads, covering a conservatively estimated 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers). A secondary system of people’s roads joined villages and districts throughout the Tahuantinsuyu, bringing the total length of roads to some 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers). Inevitably, in mountainous country, bridges of various construction were necessary. These ranged from simple stone slabs, through small log bridges and “flying foxes,” to rope-and-leather suspension bridges, some spanning chasms up to 500 feet (150 meters) wide. There were even floating bridges made of rope and reeds.

A corollary of the Incan road system was the army of young athletes called chaqsi, who ran in relays between