Introduced in 1953, the Techbuilt house comprised decades of research that sought to meet the demand for low-cost, high-quality housing in mid-twentieth century America. Within its first 16 months, the Techbuilt house was seen by millions of Americans on the Ford Foundation’s Excursion television program, was featured in the “Building Your Home” exposition in New York and was the recipient of multiple awards ranging from Parents Magazine’s “Best Home for Families with Children” to the American Institute of Architects’ “Best Development House.” In response to this exposure, Techbuilt Inc received over 16,000 requests for information on the houses and tens of thousands of people visited the model houses being built by developers across the country. Within its first 10 years, over 3000 Techbuilt houses were built in 32 states.
The significance and success of the Techbuilt house is due to its being the embodiment of the experience and knowledge gained by Carl Koch & Associates during the preceding decade. That the Techbuilt house continued to be built for over 25 years is also important as many post-war prefabricated housing efforts failed. In his book, The Prefabricated House, architectural historian Colin Davies discusses how history has given attention to a few mid-century prefabricated houses designed by well known architects, even though many of these houses failed by almost any measure, while all but ignoring some of the more successful examples. Telling the story of Techbuilt, set within the broader narrative of its influences, will help to fill this gap in our discussion of the mid-century modern residential landscape.
TheTechbuiltHouse.com was created as a base for research and resources on Techbuilt and many related topics of interest. While the Techbuilt is aesthetically and historically important on its own, when set within Koch’s full body of work it gets more interesting. Even more so when we take another step back to see how Koch’s work fits into the narrative arc of prefabricated modern beginning around the time that The Evolving House: Rational Design was published and continuing today.