Waterfall House: Too Beautiful to Be True

Worldwide known architect Frank Lloyd Wright built the Waterfall House or Kauffmann House between 1936-1939. This structure, which has a very different place for the history of architecture, can be considered as Wright’s masterpiece, also known as organic architecture.

The Waterfall House, built for the three-membered Kaufmann family from the USA, was initially a retreat. The family’s wish was to escape from the city with high air pollution and have a holiday home to commune with mother nature. They also wanted to see the waterfall on their land from their property. Frank Lloyd Wright had a much better idea about it. He would build the house directly above the waterfall.

It Seems Like It’s Always There

Despite being a modernist architect, Frank Lloyd Wright differs from his contemporaries in specific points. Its elegant architectural character is also one of its distinguishing features from its contemporaries. Because Wright adopted a horizontal architectural principle, not a vertical, as it was common in his time, that is, its structures try not to rise, but to spread across the land. Wright even sought to strengthen the connection with the ground, while many of his contemporaries disconnected from the land. The waterfall house is an important example from this point of view.

The Waterfall House was built on top of a waterfall in the region, a natural formation. However, the architect’s approach is so natural and elegant that it gives the impression that the building has always been there. Moreover, Wright made the rocks in the waterfall visible in the Waterfall House. The rocks have integrated with the structure, the natural view of the waterfall has been preserved, and the effect of connection with the soil has been increased.

Nevertheless, it is not easy to safely build a house standing ‘as if it was always there on a waterfall. For this, Frank Lloyd Wright had to develop a new construction technique. Wright invented the cantilever technique to increase the floor area without expanding the foundation of the building. With this tactic, which can be considered the first in his time, Wright could continue construction.

A Designer Without Compromising Its Principles

The Waterfall House is the only building of its kind in the world. However, Frank Lloyd Wright has implemented his design principles in the Waterfall House. These can be listed as horizontal architecture, use of natural materials, and free plan.

The architect found it appropriate not to raise the Waterfall House but to increase it in the horizontal axis, keeping its connection with the ground strong.

In choosing the material palette, it can be said that he behaved as expected from a modernist architect. He is a designer who respects the material by nature. This attitude can be seen clearly in the Waterfall House. There is no interference with the material’s nature with unnecessary ornamentation, painting, or any other treatment at home.

Finally, the use of the free plan is one of the characteristic features of the Waterfall House. One of the points Wright meets with his contemporaries is that he adopts the free plan scheme like them. The construction techniques developed in the years when the Waterfall House was built the architects of this period to prefer free plan.

Wright also suggested a relatively simple layout. Also, this layout can be reshaped according to the user. Accordingly, there is an entrance area and a living room on the Waterfall House’s ground floor in its original form. There are also two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office in the house. Each of these rooms opens onto a terrace.

The sound of the waterfall can be heard from every point of the Waterfall House. However, it is only possible to go down to the waterfall with a ladder descending into the waterfall. Thus, the family’s desire to see the waterfall from home is succeeded.

After the Waterfall House construction, it cannot be said that it has remained a modest holiday house. This house, which is an absolute architectural success, is also quite satisfying in terms of aesthetics. The experience of waking up on top of a waterfall was intriguing for many; the family hosted many world-famous names.

The Waterfall House is under protection today. It serves as a museum, and its contents are open to visitors reflecting that period’s taste of furniture.

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