The core of the work that Techbuilt Inc. did in its early years was based on a desire to provide well-designed, affordable products that can change with the life stages of their owners. Though based on standard modules, both the Techbuilt house and Spacemaking Furniture could be customized or modified beyond the base offering. This allowance for variation was critical to the Techbuilt Idea as it would allow for whole developments of Techbuilts while avoiding the possibility of every house looking the same. This was certainly a concern with Koch’s other developments like Conantum and Kendal Common, as well as with the consulting work done for the Lustron Corporation.
Published in late 1954, The Techbuilt Idea shows the early vision of the company, through several drawings of proposed layouts, to develop neighborhoods full of Techbuilt houses. Other pages feature the positive press the house received in its first year as well as letters from owners and interested parties. The initial house packages, A thorough F, are then detailed with the ‘E’, or Excursion, house being featured to illustrate some the the principles of the Techbuilt Idea. A short list of franchised builders, as well as those seeking a franchise, follows with more information for those potential buyers who want to build where there is no franchise. This latter section gives a good description of the materials used to produce the panels at the time. There is also mention of the fact that Techbuilt was actively looking to expand the package offerings to include windows, roofing, appliances etc. In the early years, many of the building materials specified in the builder’s specification pack were acquired locally and, therefore, could vary in type and quality. Future posts will look at the evolution of the Techbuilt package in more depth.
The illustrations in The Techbuilt Idea are wonderful and feature quite a few renderings (probably) done by the architectural staff along with two pages of illustrations by Mary MacLennan. The MacLennan drawings show the process of building a Techbuilt house as well as the broader process of becoming a Techbuilt owner starting with a visit to a model house through financing, construction and the final DIY stage of finishing. A related document, The Techbuilt Manual (to be featured in the future), is full of similar sketches by MacLennan.
Every time I read through The Techbuilt Idea, I notice something new. I hope you do as well, and please don’t hesitate to comment here to share what you found.
The Techbuilt Idea was published in late 1954 by Techbuilt Inc of Cambridge, MA. The pdf scan for download is 14Mb in size and comes from the author’s personal collection.