The Case Study House Program was a residential and architectural effort which ran from 1945 – 1966. Conceived by the editor and publisher of Arts & Architecture magazine, John Entenza – a true stalwart of Modernism – the program enlisted high profile architects of the time, garnering 36 blueprints of homes that were scheduled for construction. While not all 36 prototype homes were built, contributors included Charles & Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, Eero Saatinen, Richard Neutra and other architect luminaries of the time.
Their brief was simple – to design and build affordable and efficient homes for the American housing boom that was the result of the millions of American soldiers returning home at the end of World War II and the home shortage after the Great Depression. Entenza insisted too that; “Each house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual performance” and that “the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”
Cleverly using the success of his avant-garde magazine, Entenza’s plan was to allow for the architect to design and build low-cost modern homes using materials donated by the industry and manufacturers and in turn, extensively publicised their efforts in the magazine. This exchange also allowed for critical dialogue between mass builders and construction entities with architectural rock-stars of the era.
By 1948, the first 6 homes were built, mostly in Los Angeles, some in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Phoenix Arizona. These homes are still standing today and continue to attract visitors to their iconic status of the then ‘Home Of The American Future’ brief. A number of the homes which were completed were featured in Arts & Architecture magazine, with black & white photographs by iconic architectural photographer Julius Shulman.
What began as an experiment in modern housing prototypes, the 36 designs of the Case Study House Program remain an inspiration to modern architects of today and by the end of 1966, had succeeded in producing the world’s most significant works of residential architecture which remain relevant till today in terms of materials, structure and form.