Aspects of creative work: Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright A creative work is a manifestation of creative effort such as artwork, literature, music, paintings, and software. Creative works have in common a degree of arbitrariness, such that it is improbable that two people would independently create the same work. Creative works are part of property rights. A creative work depends on how you look at that particular art. Every art or craft is not creative for us or for everyone.
When we say something is creative we always have some reference. If one says a building is creative we always compare it with all principles of design whether it is in harmony or contrast with the surroundings or if it is balanced or the whole building is in unity or not. I have tried to understand aspects of creative work by studying Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. In 1933, Kaufmann’s asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new weekend house in Bear Run, a stream which flows at 1298 feet above sea level and then breaks to fall about 20 feet.
Kaufmann’s needed a year round weekend house, with all modern conveniences, away from the highway and closer to the waterfalls. Instead of designing a house which overlooks waterfalls, Wright designed a house on the waterfalls. Wright says,” I think you can hear the waterfall when you look at the design. 1 When Wright first drew sketch of the house he imagined a house with series of terraces or ledged which would appear to be mere extension to the cliff. These reinforced 1 Wright, in a conversation with Hugh Downs at Taliesin, copyright 1953 by the National Broadcasting Company.
Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 1 concrete cantilevered terraces were anchored to the rock and thus it was placed between the rocky outcrop and the stream, parallel to an old wooden bridge. The house was conceived as a living space projecting above the falls and into the forest, similar to the ledges of rock along the cliffs, and beneath the stream. 2 Initial sketches of the house 2 Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the house and its history, copyright 1993 by Dover Publications, Inc.
Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 2 First floor plan Second floor Plan Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 3 Third floor plan There were four boulders on northern side of the stream, Wright placed living room floor above one of the boulder. Spaces inside the house were framed by five nearly equal bays. West bay defined the kitchen and two bed rooms above. Two middle bays after that formed the central space of the living room.
Mrs. Kauffmann’s room was on first floor and a long gallery at the third level was provided above the living room in the middle bay. The Fourth bay or east bay defined sky lighted study area, principle entrance and stairs, while guest room was built over the eastern bay above the main entry and staircase. The fifth and the last bay encompassed the east living room terrace and the entrance loggia. South Elevation Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 4
West Elevation The terrace besides the west living was cantilevered past the line of the west kitchen wall and thus the monotonous and simplistic expression of the bay module was avoided, enhancing the drama of cantilever. On the ground floor a pool kind of space was created this can be accessed by floating staircase. The pool was constructed as per clients wish, it could have been constructed anywhere, but Wright placed it in such a way that as if it is part of the stream. Floating staircase adds to the feeling of one big flowing space from where you cannot separate nature from the building.
The cantilevers in the house already appeared everywhere at Bear Run, not just in the rock ledges, but in the long green leaves of the laurel and rhododendron. 3 Wright said that he saw them as a profoundly natural principle. With little sense of its latent poetry or expressive potential and with imagination the cantilever could be turned into the most romantic and free of all structural principles. These cantilevers appear as if they are the driving boards, their one end is anchored to the boulder and other end extends out into space with no vertical support underneath its free end.
These series of cantilevers rest on three bolsters and they rise from the edge of the stream as if on tiptoe in support of the cantilevered slab of the first floor. Even if the house has an overriding strong horizontal force expressed through series of terraces it never feels out of place and it never tries to empower itself from the nature. The series of terraces appear as if they are floating on the stream. Even the material used for construction is justified in every sense.
Sandstone used gels with the surroundings which was quarried about 500 feet west of the waterfalls and due to the rough shifting manner it appeared as if they are coming out of the rocky outcrop. Wright was inspired from nature and by using glass in windows and walls he created a space which is inseparable from its surroundings. Glass gave different perspectives form inside as well as from outside. In the daytime it becomes very reflective and appears as mirror like surface created by still and clear pond water, while in the night glass appears as if it disappeared.
The bold projecting cantilevers are made of reinforced concrete but they echo the rocky landscape. New material helped Wright to build large floating terraces. Even the colours which were used like the pale ochre colour given to the beams matched with the back of a fallen rhododendron leaf. 3 Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the house and its history, copyright 1993 by Dover Publications, Inc. Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 5
When Wright visited the site for first time every aspect of the building to be constructed was clear to him. He imagined and designed the house then and there itself in his mind. Every little detail in the house adds to the exquisite designing. The whole idea to live around the stream and not just look at it from a distance is fascinating. Mr. Kauffman loved the stream but no one ever thought of building a house there. Wright very modestly says that “by way of concentrated thought, the idea is likely to spring into life all at once and be completed eventually with the unity of a living organism. 4 Thus when I studied the architectural and structural aspects of Fallingwater I realized how the architect was inspired from the setting and how he imagined the building in first site visit and he never deviated from that imagination. His principle of organic architecture can be seen in every aspect of the building from choosing the site, designing flowing spaces which follow function too, to choosing right materials to express it. Use of natural material like sandstone so that the building becomes part of the landscape, and use of modern material like reinforced concrete for structural stability and strong and bold form of terrace.
Entrance to the site was so thoughtful that while crossing the wooden bridge and approaching the entrance of the house you get a feeling of uphill journey into a private territory, even though the entrance was at an elevation only six inches higher than the bridge roadway. By understanding all these aspects one can realize the cultural significance of the building. After industrial evolution and emergence of modern architecture, concepts of cultural significance are changed. It doesn’t mean that we don’t respect our cultural heritage, but it forces us to understand significance in different erspective. These examples we study in Indigenous traditional architecture and that we study in modern architecture have very different significance. Modern architecture like Fallingwater has cultural significance because it shows us how lifestyle of India as well as whole world has changed over time. How architecture changed over time. How our culture and architecture evolved due to British rule and also due to exchange of ideas and culture. When we are studying about conservation all these aspects are very important to understand a building. Wright, in the Architectural Forum, 94 (Jan. 1951), p. 93 Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 6 Replica and memory: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, born in Richland Center, Wisconsin. His mother, Anna Lloyd Wright had a great influence in shaping of his life.. Things which he learned on his uncle’s farm helped him to relate to nature. The architectural style which he developed has a strong belongingness to nature.
In initial practice Wright worked with Louis Sullivan and his principle of Form follows function is also seen in Wright’s work. Inspired from principles of Sullivan he created his own style inspired from nature i. e. Organic Architecture, an American style in architecture that even influenced the best European builders of the 20th century. For Wright, organic architecture should incorporate: • • • Designs based on nature Natural building materials and, Architectural plans that integrate buildings with nature
A classic example of organic architecture, Fallingwater, created in 1936, at Bear Run, Pennsylvania, showcases Wright’s skills and his command on his imagination. The client Mr. Kauffman wanted to build a weekend country house near Bear Run stream where he and his family can enjoy the fall. When Wright visited the site he had something different in mind. He knew that the Kauffmann’s loved the stream, so instead of designing a house which overlooks the stream he designed a house where you can live in the stream and enjoy every bit of it.
The whole structure is built such that it never tries to empower itself from nature. It sits quietly on the rocks as if it belongs there. This dynamic building is suspended over a fall, which pours down from underneath one of Wright’s bold projecting terraces. The building seems to grow out of the landscape. Flowing spaces, extended terraces besides the living and dining rooms brought nature into the house. Even though a modern material like reinforced concrete was used for constructing terraces it merged with the surroundings as if they were part of the rocky site.
Glass used for walls and windows, pale ochre coloured sandstone used all added belongingness. Sandstone used for construction was queried from nearby site Fallingwater is both integrated into the landscape and designed to echo the shapes of the landscape where it is nestled. Wright allows a boulder from the site to penetrate the floor of the house, so that the natural rock foundation actually merges with the interior of the house. This boulder forms the living room fireplace. With this design element, Wright blends rock, fire and water.
Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 7 Wright embeds his building supports into solid rock and even manages to build around nature, totally integrating his structure into the natural landscape. For instance, Wright actually built around a tree, incorporating the tree into the design of his building. The extreme union of human habitat and natural world is visible in the stairs that are suspended directly over the falls. These stairs go nowhere they simply allow people to experience the falls and be in direct contact with nature.
Glass windows in the living room , extended beams on the second floor which act as trellis beams for first floor and all such small details emerge from Wrights inspiration of bringing nature into the building, so that the building is part of nature and the people living inside should also feel the same way. That is what organic architecture is. Replica – Dictionary Meaning: : an exact copy or model of something Memory: the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information, a person or thing remembered, the length of time over which one can remember things. Every artist tries to interpret nature in its own way. Some get inspired from some form of flower or any form which exists in nature, some understand nature and try to relate their understanding of nature by reinterpreting it. Some try to interpret on paper, some by composing music, some by building, but basic concept is same to understand nature. In terms of architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright felt the need of relating his structures with the nature. He tried to interpret nature by evolving his architectural style which was close to nature.
Replica means a model which is inspired from something which belongs to nature and had gone through a process of evolution. It can never be exactly same as the inspiration but the essence remains. When a model lacks spirit, essence and inspiration it is merely a copy. Replica cannot be studied in isolation of its context. Context, cultural significance is very important to understand from where the artist got its inspiration. 5 Ed. Catherine Soanes, Oxford dictionary thesaurus, Oxford university press, New York (2005) Aspects of creative work: Theory of Conservation Submitted by: Manasi Pundlik, Code: AC-0212 Page 8
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