Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Road Trip

Roots: Thomas Jefferson took root in Virginia, but designed his house using French ideas. He stepped away from American Colonial designs and took ideas from France for the entire house design. He originally designed, built, then after his trip to France, he redesigned and rebuilt. He wanted his home to be different, which is why he used a dome structure, skylights, and dumbwaiters for serving as well as for the clock in the main entrance. Another related development, with roots in the imagination of the British Archigramists and Japanese Metabolists in the early 1960s, was the mega structures of the second half of the twentieth century, huge buildings encompassing many connected, functionally related activities, often made possible by the use of a repetitive, large-scale structural system (Roth 577).Congruence: Frank Lloyd Wright built Falling Water in congruence with nature by using natural materials, such as: concrete and steel. He also built Falling Water with the idea of spending time outdoors for the Kaufmanns. The Kaufmanns originally wanted the house to be built facing the waterfall, but Wright wanted to build the house over the waterfall. His idea of building the house over the water put the house in congruence with nature by making it part of the mountain and overlooking the water.
Concept: Jefferson and Wright began with two different concepts and built two houses that were completely different for their times. Jefferson wanted his home to reflect nature, but also wanted to establish French ideas in his design. Wright also designed with a modern concept, but also wanted to encourage the Kaufmanns to spend as much time outdoors as possible with verandas outside of each room. Architecture is the art in which we walk, the art that envelops us (Roth 47). Frank Lloyd Wright believed space was the essence of architecture and discovered that the same idea had been expressed centuries earlier by Lao-tzu, and paraphrased in 1906 by Okakura Kakuzo in The Book of Tea (Roth 47). The reality of architecture lay not in the solid elements that seem to make it, but in the space defined by those elements: “the reality of a room, for instance, was to be found in the vacant space enclosed by the roof and walls, not in the roof and walls themselves” (Roth 47).

Jefferson and Wright both used natural materials to build their structures. Jefferson had the resources to make the bricks from Virginia mud and nails on the property, the wood was from the surrounding area as well as the stone materials being quarried on Jefferson’s land. Wright also used natural materials, such as: concrete and steel to build the entire house. This was different from any house structure of the time and shed new light on the use of concrete to build. Since the mid-twentieth century, a number of manufactured materials have permitted exotic construction techniques (Roth 41).

Compression : Release: Jefferson used compression and release with his clocks and serving ideas. He used dumbwaiters from the basement for the clock in the main entrance as well as the clock above the front door. He also came up with new concepts of serving with dumbwaiters behind the fireplace in the dining area to bring wine bottles from the cellar in the basement. Jefferson wanted to keep his servants out of sight of guests, so he used revolving doors and many different dumbwaiters for different purposes. Wright also used compression and release in a different way by using a porous material like concrete, which is now beginning to release into the stream a little each year. The weight of the structure is causing it to fall a little every year, which Wright may not have thought of when designing the structure.

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