Quonset Hut: Metal Living for a Modern Age,
edited by Julie Decker
and Chris Chiei.
Today the Quonset hut is more an
idea than a thing. Sure one sees in their mind its unmistakable
half-cylinder form and corrugated metal siding, but one
also thinks of it as cheap, ugly, rugged, and temporary.
And really those descriptions are not wholly inaccurate.
But in this book, a companion to an exhibition now at the
Museum of History and Art, the editors and authors involved
focus on the positive qualities of what began as a response
to military need in World War II but persevered as housing
and other uses for years after the war's conclusion. That's
not to say they believe the hut will experience a resurgence
in this century (the editors admit that just as the Quonset
was a timely response to certain needs, a new, designed
response would be invented for new needs in the future),
but they see more to the Quonset than just a floor, continuous
wall/roof, doors and windows. Instead, they see if for what
it was and has become: an easy to build, easy to modify,
adaptable and personalized habitat for those on the fringe
or for that can't afford more. While the book starts with
a detailed history of the hut's origin and design and covers
its wartime and later uses, the last ten pages of the book
make the most impression: color photographs of Quonset owners
aside and inside their homes, each hut completely different
from each other, even though the basic shape and size is
the same. It attests to how the American Dream can extend
from the most unexpected places.
. . or . .