20th Century Western Architecture

Assessment Description

A 3000-word critical essay/project analysis is to be written, drawn and documented in which you will put forward your own critical response to the material covered by this course, focusing particularly on the material covered in lectures, readings and tutorials that cover the period from the late 19th century through to the late 20th century whilst also considering the relevance of past 20th century architectural precedent to ongoing contemporary architectural practices and debates.

The architectural project and its contextual relationships

Choose an architect or practice whose work is covered by this course and discuss one or more of their design projects, drawings or urban proposals. Analyse this work relative to their overall body of work and also against relevant and selective practices and their key projects. In doing this focus on the architectural qualities of the design and consider how they might relate to the relevant historical context, cultural values or theoretical concerns of the time. This should involve – where relevant – a selective analysis of material fabrication production or the reception of built outcomes in the press by the academy, or compositional – formal – design languages. Compositional design languages could be, for example, re-workings, misappropriations or translations of the classical orders, or geometries and formal systems specific to a period. Consider in conclusion, what contribution your chosen projects makes to the wider architectural discourse.

Note: Be selective with your choices. You are aiming for careful detailed discussion and developed essay and analysis rather than broad general overviews and descriptions. Decide upon and refine options and strategies in consultation with your tutor.

Essay development process + hand-in submissions to your tutor for feedback:

  1. Submit a short paragraph/abstract to your tutor for feedback at the tutorial following mid-semester break that outlines your response to your chosen architectural questions or issues and specific case study architectural projects that your essay will address. Also, list the drawn analysis or documentation you will undertake. You can think of this as a research statement. Indicate the key aspects of the projects you are investigating and the drawn analysis, diagramming or documentation you are undertaking. Include an initial draft bibliography of writings and listing of relevant precedent projects.
  2. Using the essay writing handouts and introduction we will provide, design and complete a plan for your essay. Consider (at least) the following in doing this:
    • What is your main argument going to be?
    • What points do you need to make?
    • What order will you make them in?
    • What aspects of the chosen projects or texts will be discussed and in what order?
    • Which reading and articles references will you use and how?
  3. Incorporate relevant drawings or photographs into your critical essay/project analysis assignment. You should include your own analytical drawings or diagrams and discuss these directly in your written argument.
  4. Document the source of all cited material such as quotations, paraphrased arguments, photographs and drawings with accurate footnotes. Include a bibliography of the relevant readings that have informed your essay. Using the Chicago referencing system with numbered endnotes, not in-text referencing. A link will be provided on canvas for this.

The final 3000 word critical essay/project analysis is to be uploaded to Turnitin for marking and assessment.

You will be assessed on the following:

  1. Framing, testing & developing an argument that addresses the assignment question;
  2. Presenting the argument in a clear, cohesive & structured manner;
  3. Using an appropriate and broad range of reference material;
  4. Using or producing relevant images, diagrams & analytical drawings;
  5. Appropriate footnoting & referencing.


Frank Lloyd Wright is the main representative of the American School of The Arts & Crafts Movement. One of the greatest architects in the United States has a reputation in the world. From the father of skyscrapers and the Chicago school representative Louis Sullivan, Wright became a representative of the famous architecture “Prairie School”. His masterpieces include the Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania and the Robie House in the world’s top university, the University of Chicago.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe are also known as the four masters of modern architecture.

Wright has been in design for more than 70 years, and his design concept is an innovation in architecture and art in the twentieth century. In addition, Wright is a prolific writer, educator, and philosopher. In a recent national survey of the American Institute of Architects, Wright was known as the greatest architect in the United States. His work reflects an instinctive focus on society and people’s needs and the pursuit of natural and natural materials. He studied civil engineering in the university and later transferred to the building. He began his architectural activities in Chicago in the late 1880s and worked in architectural firms such as the Chicago School of Architect Sullivan. When Wright started working, it was the period when the American industry flourished and the urban population increased rapidly. Chicago at the end of the 19th century was the birthplace of the modern skyscraper. But Wright is critical of modern big cities, and he rarely designs skyscrapers in big cities. Wright is not interested in the industrialization of buildings. The most architectural types he designed in his life were villas and small houses.

From the end of the nineteenth century to the first decade of the twentieth century, he designed many small homes and villas in the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. Most of these houses belong to the middle class. Located in the suburbs, the land is wide and the environment is beautiful. The materials are traditional bricks, wood, and stone, with a large sloping roof. In this type of building, Wright gradually formed some characteristic architectural treatment methods.

Wright’s youth was spent in the nineteenth century, the era of Whitman (W. Whitman, 1819-1892) and Mark Twain (1835-1910, American writer). Wright’s grandfather and father plowed the land in the valley of Wisconsin. He grew up on the farm and had deep feelings for the countryside and nature. His “Tari Essen” was built on the ancestral land. He talked about this at the age of eighty and said with excitement: “In Tari Essen, my third-generation returned to the land. In the land to develop and create beautiful things,” the love of the ancestors and the land is beyond words.

Wright is one of the most important architects in the United States in this century and has a worldwide reputation. Many of the buildings he designed are praised by ordinary people and are valuable treasures in modern architecture. Wright has a great influence on modern architecture, but his architectural ideas are significantly different from the representatives of the new European movement. He is taking a unique path. But within the scope of architectural art, Wright does have its own unique aspects. He solved the box-like architecture earlier than others. His architectural space is flexible and diverse, with both inner and outer spaces blending and flowing, while at the same time having quiet and hidden features. He uses both new materials and new structures, and always values ​​and exploits the advantages of traditional building materials, and is good at combining the two. The close cooperation with the natural environment is the biggest feature of his architectural works. Wright’s architecture makes people feel intimate and deep, not as severe as Le Corbusier. In the hands of Wright, the long-established architectural styles of small homes and villas have become more and more colorful, and he has taken these architectural types to a new level.

Wright architectural design concept:

Wright grew up in the natural environment of the Wisconsin Gorge, and lived on the farm Wright and lived in the sunset. I learned about the land in the hard work that nature demanded, and realized the mysterious power and potential life flow hidden in the four seasons, and experienced the natural melody and rhythm. Wright believes that the house not only has to reasonably arrange the bedroom, living room, dining cabinet, bathroom and study to make it easier for daily life, but more importantly, to enhance the family’s cohesiveness. His understanding makes him in the new residential design. The stove is placed in the heart of the home, making it an essential but natural place. Wright’s ideas and methods influenced his architecture.

Wright’s life has experienced a groping to establish spatial meaning and its expression, from the physical to space, from the static space to the flow and continuous space, in the development of the dynamic space of the four-degree sequence expansion, and finally to the dramatic space. Bruno Seve commented on Wright’s contribution: “Organic building spaces are full of dynamic, orientation-inducing, perspective and vivid and clear creations. Dynamics are creative because their purpose is not to pursue dazzling visual effects but to seek performance in life. The activity of the person itself.

Advocating a natural architectural view:

Wright’s prairie-style dwellings reflect the combination of human activities, purpose, technology, and nature. They have fundamentally changed the housing and homestead. The garden has almost reached the heart of the living room, blending inside and outside. Just like human life. In this way, the living room is in the embrace of nature. He believes that if our building has vitality, it should reflect the more vivid human condition here today. Architecture is a place where human beings are concerned and human beings are more expressive. Therefore, architecture is basically the greatest record in the human literature, and the most faithful record of the times, regions and people.

Architectural culture belonging to the United States:

We should not ignore the requirements of future generations, but we should seek the joy and rich life of the present. The revolution cannot ignore the creation of the past, but we should try our best to digest and absorb it into our minds. Wright first built on the value of folk traditions to create America’s own culture. One example is the porch of the house, which originated from the Swiss and empire’s gallery, and later appeared in the homes of planters in the southern United States. At the beginning of the 19th century, American houses generally adopted a porch as an entertainment area. Wright accepted this traditional component, but in his prairie house, he did not use the porch to surround the interior of the house but to use it to keep it. And extend the floor plan of the home, such as the Wens Road Residence. Another is the use of the cross-cut plane, which was originally an intrinsic form of American traditional dwellings. This plane is conducive to three-side lighting. Wright inherits this form, but he makes the space stretch outwards and wears up and down, resulting in New space effects.

Live organic building

Architects should create as much as nature. All concepts mean coordinating with the natural environment of the base, using natural materials such as wood and stone to consider people’s needs and feelings. Wright believes that “only when everything is partial to the whole as the whole is partial to the local, we can say that the organism is a living thing. This relationship that can be found in any animal or plant is the root of organic life. It is proposed here that the so-called organic architecture is the border county of the human spirit, the living architecture, and of course such a building must be a true portrayal of human social life. This living building is a modern new whole. This kind of “living” The concept can make the architect get rid of the inherent form of restraint, pay attention to the corresponding countermeasures according to the user, topographical features, climatic conditions, cultural background, technical conditions, material characteristics, and ultimately achieve natural results rather than arbitrary Strengthening the form of fixed zombie. This method of seeking answers from itself also makes the architect’s idea a new opportunity, so that the inspiration never dies, and innovation never ends. Wright’s organic architectural concept advocates the interior space of the building. It is the main body of architecture. Wright tries to achieve integrity by virtue of the resilience and continuity of the building structure. He explained that this continuous smear includes plane overlap and space continuation; walls, floors, and flat roofs are both continuous extensions of themselves and others, eliminating the clearly decomposed beam-column system in the structure, especially It is the use of cantilever, which provides technical possibilities for the overall structure and the extension of space. The concept and integrity of “living” are the two basic principles of organic architecture, reflecting the intrinsic function and purpose of the building, and coordinating with the environment; The nature of materials is the concrete manifestation of organic architecture in the creation.

Technology for art service

The science and technology that entered the western capitalist world in the twentieth century have developed rapidly. Various types of machines have emerged and gradually entered people’s daily lives, making unprecedented changes in society. This poses challenges for architects who have long been in the traditional form. In the face of new technology, Wright whipped his enthusiasm for the new machine era in design practice. He felt that the house should have the streamlined shape of ships, planes, and cars, so the structure should show continuity and contempt, and seek a new era. Sense of space. He said: “Science can create a civilization, but it can’t create culture. Under the rule of science, people’s life will become boring. The engineer is a scientist, and may also have originality and creativity, but he is not one. The artist created.”

Performance material

Wright’s architectural work is full of natural gas and artistic charm, and the secret lies in his unique insights into materials. The natural view of pantheism determines his respect for the natural characteristics of materials. He not only pays attention to the various singular ecology of the vast world of biology but also carefully studies the intrinsic properties of materials, including morphology, geometry, color, mechanics and chemical properties. “Every material has its own language. Each material has its own story,” “For creative artists, each material has its own message and has its own song.”

Continuous motion space

Wright does not think that space is just a negative illusory emptiness, but as a powerful development force that can push open the wall, cross the floor, and even uncover the roof, so Wright is getting more and more Not satisfied with the use of rectangles to accommodate this power, he explored the new form to shape this force, Haibei’s shell gave him such a revelation, the space of motion must have a dynamic shell – an infinite Continuous decency.

Fallingwater is a villa designed by Wright for the Kafman family. Above the waterfall, Wright realized the dream of “houseonthemesa”, and the suspended floor was riveted in the natural rock behind. The main layer is almost a complete large room, which is processed by space to form various subordinate spaces that are interflowed, and there is a small ladder to contact the pool below. The front is between the window sill and the ceiling, which is a large glass of metal window frame. The contrast between the real and the real is very strong. The whole idea is bold and has become the most famous modern building in the world.

From the appearance of Fallingwater, we can read the horizontally stretched floor, waist bridge, access road, driveway, balcony, and scaffolding, along the respective extension axes, over the valley and protrude to the surrounding, these horizontal thrusts, A strange spatial order is tightly assembled, and the huge terrace twists and turns, just like the waterfall flows down and down from every flat rock. Unexpectedly, the whole building looks like it grows from the ground. But it is more like hovering over the earth. This building has transcended itself and is deeply imprinted in people’s consciousness. It has created an indelible new experience with its figuration. It has a living, initial prototype, transcendence of time, in order to cross the building. Many schools of history, it seems to leap from the whole body, located in the rocky cliffs of Pennsylvania, commanding the entire valley, extraordinary, the fireplace inside the building is made of exposed natural mountain rocks, the majestic formation of the waterfall The external space makes the Liushui Villa more perfect. Here, nature and people coexist leisurely, presenting the highest realm of heaven and man. Fallingwater’s architectural style and interior space achieve the calm, firm effect of great art. This calm and calm atmosphere, the combination of force and reaction force, permeates the interior and exterior of the building and its layout and furnishings.

The extraordinary interior makes people feel like entering a dream. The process of going to the huge living room space, just like the features that often appear in Wright’s works, must first pass through a narrow and dimly covered porch, then enter the opposite direction. The main staircase passes through the rough and through-hole walls.

Fallingwater is also very symbolic in the use of materials, all of which are rough rocks. The horizontality of the stone and the straightness of the pillars create a distinct confrontation. All the horizontal members of the concrete, which traverse through space, give the building the highest dynamic and tension. Wright’s attitude toward international formalism and talkative functionivism is concentrated in the stairs leading from the living room to the stream below. This famous staircase, associated with architecture and the earth, is an indispensable medium for interior and exterior space, and it always makes people linger incessantly.

The flowing water villa can be said to be a building constructed in a subtle balance with the power of positive and negative relatives. It can also be said that it is a space method of horizontal or oblique interspersed, and a rare and intertwined fusion. The choice of space furnishings and the design and layout of the furniture are unique.

In general, organic architecture is a combination of the structure, materials, and methods of architecture, synthesizing an organic whole that serves humanity. Organic design actually refers to this comprehensive, functionalist meaning.

Wright proposes six principles, namely:

  1. Conciseness should be an artistic test standard;
  2. Architectural design should be of a variety of styles, like humans;
  3. The building should be in harmony with its environment. He said: “A building should appear to grow from there and be in harmony with the surrounding environment.”
  4. The color of the building should be consistent with the environment in which it is located, that is to say, adopt architectural color factors from the environment;
  5. The expression of the essence of building materials;
  6. The unity and integrity of the spirit in the building.

The view of organic architecture is not rigid, but a method of flexibility. Wright once said that he likes to use reinforced concrete to model the structure of the plant. The middle of the structure is a trunk, buried deep underground. Each floor seems to grow on the trunk. Layers are added, and the sun shines from top to bottom. Through the skylight into the room, causing the feeling of natural lighting, daylight and moonlight have similar effects. Wright called this an organic building.

Recommended Reading on Frank Lloyd Wright:

Brooks Pfeiffer, Bruce  92011). Frank Lloyd Wright designs: the sketches, plans, and drawings. New York, NY: Rizzoli

Brooks Pfeiffer, Bruce (2011).  Frank Lloyd Wright on architecture, nature, and the human spirit: a collection of quotations. San Francisco: Pomegranate

Brooks Pfeiffer, Bruce (2009). Frank Lloyd Wright: the complete works = das Gesamtwerk = l’œuvre complete. Hong Kong; Los Angeles: Taschen  (FOL 724.60973 W949 )

Brooks Pfeiffer, Bruce (2008). The Essential Frank Lloyd Wright: critical writings on architecture. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Hanks, David A. (1999). The decorative designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Mineola, N.Y. : Dover Publications

Huxtable, Ada Louise (2004), Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: Lipper/Viking

Scully, Vincent Joseph (1960). Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: G. Braziller

Storrer, William Allin (2001), The architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a complete catalog. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Twombly, Robert C. Frank Lloyd Wright: essential texts. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Whiston Spirn, Anne (1996). Frank Lloyd Wright: Designs for an American landscape, 1922-1932. New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Library of Congress, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

PBS: Frank Lloyd Wright:

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