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Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater, derived from the tumbling waterfall that runs underneath the house, located in Pennsylvania is without a doubt one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous designs which began in 1935 and completed in 1938 for Edgar J. Kaufmann and his family as a weekend home. Edgar was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was a businessman who owned and directed “Kaufmann’s Department Store” and was a millionaire.The design places the house above a waterfall on bear run tributary in which the client initially suggested to face the waterfall but was clearly ignored. The house was not situated to take advantage of view but to rather be apart of the view and landscape.

Wright could have just designed a cabin or lodge for Edgar to become his weekend getaway home, but instead he created a radical design for its day and age and was then seen as the house of the 20th century. Even today it still claims attention and thousands of people visiting the house every year and really has set a benchmark in the architecture world. Many architects look up to Wright and the organic principles he used to create this one off design and try to incorporate them into their own designs. Frank’s design appeared to emerge from the landscape as if the house was a part of the falls, finding the balance between nature and technology to create this organic piece of art. The trees were left planted wherever possible to avoid ruining the beautiful context. The use of materials and technology was used to connect with the surroundings and provide amazing views from inside the house and looking in from the outside. Wright’s principles that were applied to the Fallingwater house to create this piece of organic architecture that has found a balance between nature and technology.

This balance has given the illusion that the house belongs to the landscape and its context. The quality that separates Fallingwater from the majority of other designs in this type of context is the way Wright has found peace with nature in his design. This sense of creating a non selfish design that doesn’t rudely place itself in the best location to observe the beauty of the nature and keep it to itself. Instead politely introduces itself to the nature and asks how it could fit in, and doing so builds this relationship where the two can come together and understand each other. This communication has allowed nature to share its key points, and with understanding the design can adapt and process this information to create this elegant building that complements the nature and its beauty in harmony. The principle of balance between nature and technology to create organic architecture has since influenced many projects trying to replicate the Fallingwater house character. You will find that this principle is still being used today for contemporary architecture and is a main factor in many designs, trying to make the design belong to its context.

The Gambier Island House in British Columbia, Canada is a example of contemporary architecture that can relate to the same principle used for Fallingwater. This house was designed by OMB Architects in which they were designing for a young family that have two children and were looking for a weekend retreat, very similar to Fallingwater in the sense of purpose. The design places the house on the lip of a steep rocky cliff overlooking howe sand, providing stunning views of Anvil Island and beyond. This is where Wright’s Fallingwater comes into influential significance, blending the design into its natural context while counterbalancing with technology of the design to create this beautiful piece of organic architecture. The house has somewhat been placed into the site with little alteration to the nature and gives the feeling that it lightly touches the surface of the ground to keep the natural surroundings as apart of the design’s character attributes. Trees embrace the house and its position on the island as they enclose like a curtain, slightly drawn at one opening allows the communication between views out to the further islands and views in to the landscape in which the house sits and tries to give the illusion that it belongs there.

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