The Quonset hut was a portable, easy to construct architectural unit that allowed for the rapid deployment of forward bases in war zones. A hut could be flown in by helicopter and just as easily removed.
Whole cities could be built in a day.
The Quonset contributed, in many subtle and overlooked ways, to the global, mid-20th century spread of U.S military power. By enabling a new kind of nomadic military utopia – or, modular instant cities maintained on inhospitable terrains – the Quonset hut literally sheltered America's overseas Army presence.
"During the housing crunch of the late 1940s," however, as a press release from the National Endowment for the Humanities explains, "thousands of people across the nation converted these surplus military huts into unconventional homes, churches, and restaurants. Today, the Quonset has largely vanished from most of the American landscape – and most people's memory."
A new book and exhibition hope to correct that fading memory.
As these photos from that book show, the Quonset has many cool uses – and could even experience something of a renaissance in today's pro-prehab architectural climate.
I, personally, would love a little BLDGBLOG village out in the desert somewhere, made entirely of Quonset huts: I could write books, use solar power, watch the stars...
(Via Archinect's omnipresent Bryan Finoki).