I have been thinking about – and trying to figure out – exactly what it is that makes Fallingwater so satisfying as an architectural experience.
Part of it is the sense that one is in nature. Edgar Kaufmann had wanted the house to be on the opposite bank looking at the waterfall, a much more conventional framed view of nature. But Wright placed the house in, and on top of, the waterfall, so that one feels that the house is placed within the woods and the water (Wright failed – or refused – to design a conventional swimming pool, but instead provided steps down from the living room into a plunge pool alongside the waterfall).
The second thing which is clever about the house is that every interior space is paralleled by an equivalent outside deck, so that one is constantly pulled outside. It was not cheap (the initial quote was a maximum of $35,000. It ended up costing $70,000).
The third thing which is clever is the complexity of the ground plan and the way that the three floors relate – and do not relate – to one another. I assume that this may have been what Wright meant by creating an organic architecture, rather than following the tenets of a more modernist logic in the ground plan.
I am posting some additional views that I omitted from my first post, which I did in the first flush of enthusiasm. The first are the steps from the living room down into the plunge pool, not a particularly legible image, but important for understanding the connection of the house to the water:-
The second is a view which I think is from Edgar sr.’s dressing room, which demonstrates the qualities of the woods outside the house:-
The third is the long view of the house from a viewing platform downstream, which is a very conventional view of the house, but important for understanding how it sits in the woods (i.e. is not purely architectural):-