The conundrum about how houses can be mass producible yet personalised is nothing new; making good architectural design and build accessible to the ‘middle class’ is a foundation of the modernist movement.
With 11,000 homes built in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay area between the mid-1950s to 1966, property developer Joseph Eichler enjoyed a measure of financial and critical success.
Born in New York to an Austrian father and German mother, Eichler initially earned a business degree. Later in life, after two years living in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, he developed a passion for modernity and, in the mid-1940s, started a business selling prefabricated houses.
Ten years later, he hired architectural firm Anshen & Allen who designed a standardised prototype: the first Eichler Homes. His building system meant designs were simplified so that they could be produced with near assembly-line efficiency. Yet they were still … Read the rest