According to reporting from the Austin Monitor, a house in Austin, Texas’s Air-Conditioned Village came one step closer to official protection last month when the city’s Historic Landmark Commission voted to initiate a zoning process that would designate the building a protected historic structure.
The Air Temp House, designed by local architect Fred Winfield Day, is one of 22 homes in the Northwest Austin neighborhood of Allandale built by the National Association of Home Builders and research partners in the mid-1950s to test air conditioning technology in mid-market residences. The houses used different technologies from a variety of manufacturers (the Air Temp House used Chrysler’s AirTemp product) and were sold to buyers who lived in the houses and tested their devices. The occupants’ and buildings’ behavior were monitored by the National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning Association’s Mobile Laboratory for one year in order to study the potential of nascent residential air conditioning technology. Most of the original Air Conditioned Village homes are still standing and are in use as private residences.
The current rezoning, which would only cover the Air Temp House, was spurred by the building’s current owner’s application to demolish the property and replace it with a new, larger house.
For those interested in more on the history of air conditioning, Daniel A. Barber’s recent book Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning looks at the history of the cooling technology, and critic Kate Wagner reviewed the book recently for The Architect’s Newspaper.