2.04.2010

3 Inspired by Architecture {Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House}

I promise not to turn this blog into an Architecture history class, but as I mentioned a few days ago I really want to revisit some of my favorite iconic works of Architecture.  As soon as I googled Mies and saw this picture, I knew this would be my first post...

As I am sure you have gathered from my posts, I am a big fan of straightword, uncomplicated, and clean lined elements...with a touch of warmth and a sense of history/location/meaning.  I love the idea of pushing people a little past what they are comfortable with or what they expect.  I think the Farnsworth House and most of Mies' work embodies these ideals...

Name: Farnsworth House
Architect: Mies van der Rohe
Location: Plano, IL
Date: Completed in 1951

First conceived in 1945 as a country retreat for the client, Dr. Edith Farnsworth, the house as finally built appears as a structure of Platonic perfection against a complementary ground of informal landscape. This landscape is an integral aspect of Mies van der Rohe’s aesthetic conception. The house faces the Fox River just to the south and is raised 5 feet 3 inches above the ground, its thin, white I-beam supports contrasting with the darker, sinuous trunks of the surrounding trees. The calm stillness of the man-made object contrasts also with the subtle movements, sounds, and rhythms of water, sky and vegetation.


The dominance of a single, geometric form in a pastoral setting, with a complete exclusion of extraneous elements normally associated with habitation, reinforces the architect’s statement about the potential of a building to express “dwelling” in its simplest essence. While the elongated rectangle of the house lies parallel to the course of the Fox River, the perpendicular cross axis, represented by the suspended stairways, faces the river directly. With its emphatically planar floors and roof suspended on the widely-spaced, steel columns, the one-story house appears to float above the ground, infinitely extending the figurative space of the hovering planes into the surrounding site.

At the same time, the prismatic composition of the house maintains a sense of boundary and centrality against the vegetative landscape, thus maintaining its temple-like aloofness. The great panes of glass redefine the character of the boundary between shelter and that which is outside. The exterior glazing and the intermittent partitions of the interior work together dialectically, shifting the viewer’s awareness between the thrill of exposure to the raw elements of nature and the comforting stability of architectonic enclosure.

The architecture of the house represents the ultimate refinement of Mies van der Rohe’s minimalist expression of structure and space. It is composed of three strong, horizontal steel forms - the terrace, the floor of the house, and the roof - attached to attenuated, steel flange columns.
From: The Farnsworth House website

{Side Note}  Although I sometimes post images from weddings on this blog, I am more inpsired by the decorative elements and the way people pull everything together rather than the actual wedding itself.  I think I am missing the wedding gene...I just never really have had a desire to have a big wedding, wearing a white dress, with all the traditional hoop-la. That said, when I saw this page it kinda made me want to have one...

3 comments:

Linz said...

i'm not a minimalist by any means (i like the curves of crown moulding and the eaves of english cottages), but i can see how you're inspired by this particular house. there's a beauty in its exact proportions and its straight-edged symmetry. thank you for the architecture lesson - i read the word "prismatic" over and over again because...well? i like the way it was used to describe this house.

Brim 'n Lea- Team D.C. said...

I sooooo love Mies can der Rohe. Thanks for the reminder!

aquirkydelight said...

I grew up like 30 minutes from Plano, I can't believe I never knew this was there! ROAD TRIP!

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