A building that amazingly combines the elements of Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophy of harmony, and the designing solutions, which serve as the characteristics of the Western esthetics, Fallingwater is one of the most famous buildings in the history of the American architecture.
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Wright, however, clearly preferred the postulates of the Chinese wisdom of the Feng Shui philosophy (Fiero 21) to the pragmatic concepts of Western architecture. A single look at the building is enough to understand that the house is supposed to represent the universal harmony that the Feng Shui philosophy is based on. To be more specific, the spaciousness of the house allows for the flow of positive energy, which is known in the Chinese philosophy as chi.
However, by far the greatest step towards creating an environment where Feng Shui principles rule, the incorporation of such crucial elements of the Feng Shui philosophy as earth and water must be mentioned. Indeed, a closer look at the building and its location will reveal that the building is located in close proximity to the waterfall of Bear Run and the Mill Run River.
As far as the earth symbol of the Feng Shui philosophy is concerned, it is represented by the location of the house, i.e., the land that the Fallingwater rests on, as well as the numerous trees that it is surrounded with.
Thus, the very environment of the place predetermines a perfect flow of chi in accordance with the Chinese philosophy and the concept of “organic architecture”. In a way, the look of the house is quite similar to the structure of a Japanese Pagoda; the same multilayered structure is the key feature of the latter.
The design of the interior and exterior of the house also aligns with the key principles of Feng Shui, particularly, with the concept of oneness and the principle of energy circulation. Speaking of the exterior of the house, one must mention its shape.
The first detail that falls into one’s eye immediately is the clever use of shape, as well as unique line work. The curvy shape of the exterior allows for creating an impression of the additional spaciousness and, therefore, the feeling of openness, which is quite alien to the Western culture and the Western principles of architecture.
The same can be said about the interior of the building (Fiero 21). In contrast to the traditional Western principles of architecture, FLW did not attempt at making the elements of the urban design evident; quite on the contrary, every single design choice seemed to conceal any presence of civilization and create an illusion of the nature taking over the place completely.
For example, the low level, at which the elements of the house furniture were located, could be interpreted as a means to bring the element of the earth closer to the resident of the Fallingwater. Likewise, most of the elements that are crucial for the household, including kitchen utensils, bathroom, etc., were made barely visible, while the concepts that were supposed to marry nature and civilization were constantly on a display.
Finally, such detail as color should be noted to add to the impression of Fallingwater being the representation of the Feng Shui philosophy. There is no need to stress that urban architecture traditionally does not presuppose active use of bright colors quite, on the contrary, most of the latter are rather inexpressive.
However, the choice of colors that are traditionally made by urban architects does not align with the palette used for Fallingwater either. Instead of using the colors that remind of steel, concrete and other elements of the urban design, FLW chose the palette that could mask the house as a part of the landscape. For example, the outside of the house is barely visible on the background, with grayish and brownish color cast reminding of stone and wood.
The interior also reminds one of the woods; however, inside the house, the colors are slightly more saturated. Thus, the yin (the darker and the subordinate element) and yang (the lighter and the superior element) are intertwined and incorporated into the overall design of the house interior.
One might argue that the darker colors, which the design of the interior is based on, may create a rather gloomy atmosphere; however, inside the house, the colors are also balanced in a very original way.
Unlike the walls, the ceiling and the floor of the house, the furniture is of much lighter color shade, from walnut to ivory. As a result, the contrast between the designs of the aforementioned interior elements is far from striking, yet it still creates a unique peaceful mood.
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It seems that the Fallingwater house and property require very expensive maintenance and preservation procedures. However, it would be wrong to consider Fallingwater a waste of money. Instead, it should be viewed as a cultural heritage of the era and the amazing brainchild of a genius architect. Despite the costs, Fallingwater is the building that is worth preserving.
Fiero, Gloria. The Humanistic Tradition, Book 6: Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Global Perspective. New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities. 2010. Print.