The Culture of a Machine Crafted Architecture: The First Tournalaid Communities

Tournalayer No. 2 being crafted in Peoria, Illinois in February 1946.

Tournalayer No. 2 being crafted in Peoria, Illinois in February 1946.

From the in-house publication NOW Caption: LeTourneau at Vicksburg. September 1, 1944. Vol.9, No.16.

From the in-house publication NOW Caption: LeTourneau at Vicksburg. September 1, 1944. Vol.9, No.16.

Tournalayer No. 2 in Longview, Texas 1946. Top images shows the inner form to the left and the lower image shows the outer form being lowered over the inner.  Image courtesy of the LeTourneau University Archives.

Tournalayer No. 2 in Longview, Texas 1946. Top images shows the inner form to the left and the lower image shows the outer form being lowered over the inner. Image courtesy of the LeTourneau University Archives.

From the in-house publication NOW. March 15, 1946. Vol 10, No.44. The first Tournalaid house was poured in Vicksburg, Mississippi in November 1945.

From the in-house publication NOW. March 15, 1946. Vol 10, No.44. The first Tournalaid house was poured in Vicksburg, Mississippi in November 1945.

Mural- R. G. LeTourneau Industries:

Mural- R. G. LeTourneau Industries: Building an Industry and God’s Kingdom. Dedicated: May 14, 2009. Artist RobertDafford.

My paper – The Culture of a Machine Crafted Architecture: The First Tournalaid Communities was accepted to be presented at the ACSA Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

Accepted Abstract

The Tournalayer was a remarkable mechanized system for constructing and crafting prefabricated housing that established the first Tournalaid communities in the United States during the mid-1940s. This machine-made community is an exemplary model that epitomized the entrepreneur Robert Gilmore Letourneau’s experimental energy to apply new technology to create the first Tournalaid communities in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Longview, Texas.

The revealed history of Tournalaid communities demonstrates how the building materials, innovative technology and the unique “house in a day” construction system came together to form neighborhoods with lasting cultural bonds and memories. The Vicksburg Tournalaid community lasted for over half a century until the mid 1990s when the community of houses was destroyed. The Longview, Texas community has several houses remaining. In view of the fact that the Vicksburg houses have been removed, the community bonds and memories still remain, though they are gradually becoming lost.

This research seeks to preserve the cultural heritage of the first Tournalaid community through an analysis of the people, the place and the prefabrication technology that made the community culturally and architecturally meaningful. This research highlights how designers had the ability to develop technology to suit their needs. A simple case study of worker housing in the 1940s will reveal how the larger ideas of modernism influenced the impact of housing on the community and their families. This paper will discuss how the machine and the craftsman interacted with the technological processes to reveal hope for the future.

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One response to “The Culture of a Machine Crafted Architecture: The First Tournalaid Communities

  1. Pingback: “Pouring 24-Hour Concrete House” ACME Photo | TournaTalk

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