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Fallingwater – the natural way to live

6 October 2011 No Comment

The sound of trickling water is well known for its relaxing properties, many UK homes now have both indoor and outdoor water features, but what about the exhilarating rush of a waterfall?

One of the most unique houses in the world is Fallingwater in the US state of Pennsylvania. This home actually resembles a giant water feature, because it was built on top of a 30 foot waterfall. A modern architectural feat in itself but even more amazing when you realise that this home was built 75 years ago.

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A dream that became reality

Fallingwater was the dream of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who made it a reality for his clients the Kaufmanns, a prominent family who owned a department store. The family yearned to live full time at their summer camp next to the Bear Run mountain stream, and turned to Wright to help them design a more suitable vacation home than their current, deteriorating cabin.

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Seemingly floating above the water

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Wright shared the family’s love of nature, but instead of giving them spectacular views of the waterfall as the family expected, instead he made their home a natural part of it. The house stretches out over the top of the falls, seemingly floating above the water.

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And whilst today we all strive to ‘bring the outdoors in’ in our own homes with features such as bi-folding doors and conservatories, the outdoors really are part of this extraordinary house, which is now a museum attracting more than 150,000 visitors a year.

Bringing together nature and architecture

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Natural springs drip water into connecting areas which are then channelled back out, the fireplace is made from the boulders upon which the house sits and the sound of the waterfall fills every room. This bringing together of nature and architecture is thanks to Wright’s passion for Japanese design and desire for sense of space, evident in the strong horizontal and vertical lines of the house.

The modern take on Fallingwater

Seamlessly integrating a building with an active running waterfall and beautiful natural surroundings would be challenging today for any architect, but Wright’s Fallingwater flows on with modern examples such as Villa Amanzi in Phuket, Thailand.

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It boasts the same levitating properties, jutting out from a rock face, and even similar angular form. But instead of a waterfall, it uses a swimming pool to instil the same relaxing sense of calmness.

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Modern living can work in harmony with nature

The impact Fallingwater has had on modern architecture cannot be underestimated. It proved that what many thought would be impossible, actually is possible. It’s a true example of how modern living can work in harmony with nature with spectacular results. And it’s why the house is featured on the Smithsonian’s Life List of ’28 Places to Visit Before You Die’.

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So if you’re willing to make a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh and go down into the woods today, you really will be in for a big surprise.

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