Design Harmony in Nature – Falling waters, Pennsylvania

Falling waters

The house, Fallingwater is one of the most spectacular designs done by Frank Lloyd Wright and was constructed in 1939 which is located at Mill Run, Pennsylvania where the house has the most viewed stream that flows at 1298 feet above sea level and suddenly breaks to fall at 30 feet. The Fallingwater built for Mr. Edgar Kaufmann and his family is a weekend home.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
The Fallingwater, Pennsylvania

Recognizion

Fallingwater was entitled as Wright’s “most beautiful job” and is designated as a National Historic Landmark and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasure, and named the “best all-time work of American architecture”. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with seven other Wright-designed buildings, on July 10, 2019. Today, Fallingwater is open to the public as a museum and surrounded by  5,100 acres of natural land known as the Bear Run Nature Reserve.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
View of the house

Architecture

This masterpiece was an anchor to harmony between man and nature where wright Wright’s input on Japanese architecture has carved out the serenity of the design. Fallingwater just does not grow out of the rocky outcrop nor just create a landscape tailor-made for people to sit around. It shows how architecture can replicate form, metaphors and also use materials to cultivate the essence of each space the user enters.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
Nature being every part of the design

Design

Fallingwater typically grows from the inside out as a design that is from the central fireplace which acts as the focal point of the house. The house magnifies details of design in nature within three levels that is rocky outcrop growing from the fireplace, southern lights glazing upon the corner windows, and the constant melody of the water flowing from the waterfall.

Circulation

The circulation was curated to have a sense of compression when indoors and expansion while one approaches the outdoors hence the expansive terraces occupy about half of the building. The house magnifies details of design in nature within three levels that is rocky outcrop growing from the fireplace, southern lights glazing upon the corner windows, and the constant melody of the water flowing from the waterfall.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
Staircase connecting the base of the house to the above stories

Concept of Falling waters

Wright has molded the design from the heart of the home where it acts as a gathering space for the family. The design also makes rock cuts into the fireplace, physically bringing the waterfall into the house. He also brings notice to this concept by dramatically extending the chimney upwards to make it the highest point on the exterior of the house. The design has shown the peculiar way in how boulders from the site can be incorporated into its walls. The spaces are built in order to bring nature into the four walls. The whole concept plays within the horizontal and vertical lines of the planning.

Spatial Treatment

The spatial treatment throws light on a dynamic feature and organic architecture which he has achieved. The design stands for its way of dynamism with how the natural surrounding was interpreted. The spatial treatment has been profoundly nourished the zen attire of the environment where they blend in with nature.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
Interiors of the house

Function

The house has a cantilevered living room, the stairway leads directly down to the stream below, and in a connecting space that connects the main house with the guest and servant level, a natural spring drips water inside, which is then channeled back out.

Bedroom of Falling waters

Bedrooms are small, some with low ceilings to encourage people outward toward the open social areas, decks, and outdoors. The rooms all relate to the house’s natural surroundings, and the living room even has steps that lead directly into the water below. The architecture envelope of ferroconcrete cantilevered balconies has structurally amazed all. Wright has used a very creative way of corner windows without mullions where the corners vanish bowing to the natural context of the site.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
View of guest bedroom

Low Ceiling

The visual connection from the interior of the house directs outside through the low ceiling used in the house. It was in more of a simple style rather than making it dramatic. It has luminous textures of the woodland that is rhythmically enframed.

Design Harmony in Nature - Falling waters, Pennsylvania
The visual connect from the interior to exterior

Elements in Design of Falling waters

The house leads to a constant notion of the sound of falling water. Therefore, it creates the essence of bliss for the users using the space which even gives the major factor of which the spaces blends with nature through vision, touch as well as sound. Also, the location of the site serves as an element itself for the basis of the design. This gives a sense to the place where there would be waterfalls, river bed, natural rocks, and trees.

Water

Water being an important element in the house, stays as a constant notion. the sound of water will be heard throughout the house all the time. There is a touch of young blooming forest in the context of the site with dramatic rock ledges and boulders.

Water – the most important element of the design

Horizontal Elements of Falling waters

The columns and beams form the porch and the plates. The terrace that stretches onto the waterfall is made of concrete. These elements anchor the building in its surroundings.

The corner windows of the house

Vertical Elements

The walls used as vertical elements define the spaces of the house. The floor uses lined with native stone from the site.

View of the house showing exterior vertical elements

Material Used in Falling waters

  • Stone Rugosa
  • Native stones
  • Concrete
  • Steel
  • Wood
  • Stone tiles
  • Glass
Entrance to Edgar Kaufmann’s dressing room

Colour Palette

Wright’s interest focuses on an organic composition throughout a design. Thus, he has kept two main shades of the color palette throughout. That is the light ochre for concrete and his signature Cherokee red for steel. The paints used in Fallingwater are eco-friendly that withstands the environmental challenges of the site. The interiors of the house have used simple as well as vibrant colors in the house. The use of triadic colors was the scheme for furnishing. Similarly, the usage of monochromatic colors of brown for walls, ceilings, and floors.

The colours used for the interiors

Conclusion

Fallingwater consists of two parts: The main house of the clients which was built between 1936-1938, and the guest room which was completed in 1939. The original house contains simple rooms furnished by Wright himself, with an open living room and compact kitchen on the first floor, and three small bedrooms located on the second floor. The third floor was the location of the study and bedroom of Edgar Jr., the Kaufmann’s son.

First floor plan
Second floor plan
Third floor plan

Also Read: Tokyo Garden and House by Ryue Nishizawa

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