|Standard view from downstream.|
|In this famous view of Fallingwater from downstream, two waterfalls are clearly visible. The upper waterfall seems to come straight out from under the house, but in actuality, the stream flows from right to left in the photo, but breaks at an angle toward the camera (away from the house) at the upper waterfall. The cantilevered levels and terraces as well as the stone walls echo the ledges below, giving an impression of the house being an organic part of the rock formations, and that the house "fits" in its natural setting. The stream flows in front of the house, from right to left in the photo (and under part of the cantilevered living room and terraces), but breaks at an angle away from the house at the upper falls, creating the illusion of water flowing out from the house itself. If you haven't seen them already, check out this autumn view of Fallingwater from almost the same angle, and this view from a lower angle of the house showing a full waterfall.|
Original photo, used by permission. Copyright © cambridge2000.com.|
Click here or on photo for a somewhat larger (600x800 pixel) version.
Why did Wright design so complex a structure? Why was he so intent on cantilevering? I see Fallingwater as an irregular web of forces skillfully balanced to create floating horizontal levels. It is proper for such a structure to be inserted amid horizontal rock ledges naturally settled by similar adjustments of forces. Moreover, cantilevering is a constituent feature of modern structural technology. For millennia building was dominated by uprights - posts or walls holding up beams, trusses, or vaults to provide shelter. Within the past two hundred years, however, a more scientific understanding of materials and forces gradually led (among several results) to horizontal constructions so strong in themselves that vertical supports can be greatly reduced in number and bulk. Furthermore, supports can be distributed freely between horizontal planes. This technological liberation gave rise to the "open plan" that has preoccupied all major creators of modern architecture, Wright in particular.
- Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House, pp. 90-96.