I’m spending part of this Fourth of July holiday building a Lego model of one of the great works of American architecture, Fallingwater. Building this is a fascinating process; it’s from a plan worked out by a professional, and he did an excellent job of conveying a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright’s key ideas in the building process. For example, one begins by building up the landscape; the point at which you begin building up the house proper is only clear in retrospect, the house grows out of the environment so seamlessly. Then you assemble a construction which is unambiguously “house;” but when you attach it to the already-laid foundation, the boundary again becomes confusing. The wall of the house could just as easily be a rock escarpment; the window, a waterfall.
It’s giving me a real appreciation for FLW’s work on this house. I need to walk around and look at some other houses and see how they handle the relationship of the structure to its environment; I suspect that a big part of the reason that so many suburban houses look, well, so suburban is that they have no clear relationship to it at all, and look rather like they got dropped on an otherwise empty lawn by aliens.