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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian House and the Creation of a Modern Japanese-Usonian Hybrid
Audrey Anderson 2007-2008 An Honors Thesis in Architectural Studies
Table of Contents
PART I Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian House: A Reincarnation of Traditional Japanese Architecture
Introduction: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Vision for America…………………………..4 A Walk through the Usonian House………………………………………………………7 A Westerner’s Observations on Japanese Architecture………………..………………...15 Frank Lloyd Wright Meets Japan………………………………………………………..22 The Kinship of the Usonian House and Japanese Home………………………………...30 Conclusion: “An Architecture for Our Own Changed Life Conditions”…...……………46
The Creation of a Modern Japanese-Usonian Hybrid: Time-Tested Values in Today’s Architecture
House Description………………………………………………………………………..52 Model Pictures…………………………………………………………………………...56 Model Drawings………………………………………………………………………….59
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian House: A Reincarnation of Traditional Japanese Architecture
his true passion lay in creating small. but left and established his own practice after a falling out with Sullivan. At the turn of the twentieth century.” he was without a doubt one of the foremost leaders in the progression of American architectural design. Often called “America’s greatest architect. Critics today still recognize works of his such as Fallingwater and the Guggenheim museum as some of the greatest examples of architectural design in America. organic. Wright rose to the forefront of the architecture industry with his ground-breaking organic design and tireless attention to the development of architecture for the people. Despite a volatile career. Wright attended but never graduated both high school and college. Although Wright established himself as an architect by designing grand buildings such as these for the elite. affordable houses for the everyday family. Many today still recognize him as the Father of American Architecture.Introduction: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Vision for America Figure 1: Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) Born to a poor family in Wisconsin. if not the world. He interned at the firm of Adler & Sullivan. He strongly believed that every individual deserved 4 . Frank Lloyd Wright revolutionized American architecture with his innovative approaches to design and construction.
” This was his vision—a utopia of small. Throughout his life. 5 . Including the land and interior furniture. family homes throughout the United States. he designed and built more than one hundred small-scale family homes. Wright first used the term Usonia in the mid 1920’s to refer simply to America. Figure 2: The PopeLeighey House. From these beliefs arose his solution for architecture for everyman. These homes came to be known as “Usonian houses.. 1992) p. in 1939.excellent architecture. as well as to allude to the term “utopia. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Ed. Mount Vernon. this typical Usonian house was moved to Mount Vernon. in order to distinguish the United States from Canada and Mexico.. Virginia.000 in 1939. in 1964. affordable houses with innovative design that incorporated his architectural ideals on a human scale. organic. this total cost of this house fell under $7. Virginia. 1939 Originally built in Falls Church. and moreover that excellent architecture did not necessarily equal expensive architecture.” a term that Wright used himself to indicate the United States Of North America. he described nearly all of his houses as “Usonian. Inc.1 From the mid 1930’s until he died. Virginia. Volume 1: 1894-1930 (New York: Rizzoli International Publications. 227.” since they displayed his 1 Pfeiffer. Bruce Brooks.
these communities required extreme political and social conditions that were far from realization.4 While the plan for Broadacre City never materialized. 9. Pfeiffer. and poverty. an automobile. 1976) p. Ed. 1994) p.ideals for American residential architecture. Presented in 1932. Volume 4: 1939-1949 (New York: Rizzoli International Publications. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. without sacrificing the conveniences of a city. 2 3 Lind. 1994) p.. Wright was determined to revamp the urban landscape of the United States. He believed the single cure to the urban issue lay in decentralization. gently transforming America’s concept of the family home. Inc. Bruce Brooks. 1932 This drawing by Wright illustrates his futuristic plans for a decentralized urban environment consisting of single-family Usonian homes. 123. alleviating the problems of congestion. Highly idealized.”3 Broadacre City consisted of a decentralized grid of individual family homes—Usonian houses—each built on a single acre of land and connected by a transportation system catering to the automobile.2 In addition to reforming the American home. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses (San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks. it embodied his belief that every North American should own an efficient home. Carla. and land. 6 .. Wright built dozens of varieties of the Usonian house throughout the United States. 257. disrepair. Figure 3: Broadacre City. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses: The Case for Organic Architecture (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. and he called his new plan for urban America “Broadacre City. 4 Sergeant. John.
7 . in order to blend his houses into the landscape. is generally recognized to be the original. While there is some debate concerning which of Wright’s houses was the first true Usonian home.5 Each of his nearly 140 Usonian houses built since then was designed according to strict guidelines to tailor the home to the human scale. 19. and maximize efficiency. a great need arose for inexpensive and efficient family homes. As seen in the design of the exterior of the home. The first of two homes built for Herbert Jacobs. connect it with nature. built in 1936. the Jacobs House. Wisconsin. In the wake of the Great Depression. 1936. These three 5 Lind. this house has widely been considered the first Usonian house. Madison. The Usonian house provided a solution. Wright often emphasized the horizontal line. as well as exaggerate their scale.A Walk through the Usonian House Figure 4: Jacobs House.
24. Convinced that tall ceilings and expansive rooms were overrated and unnecessary.” rooting the house to the ground as well as giving the illusion of grand scale. Inc. emphasize privacy. Maddex. Wright formatted his plan for the home to accommodate the human scale. Wright-Sized Houses: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solutions for Making Small Houses Feel Big (New York: Harry N. First of all. 2003) p. Wright scaled down his homes to an intimate size. Wright was able to severely downscale the actual size of the house. Figure 5: Jacobs House floor plan The floor plan of the Wright’s Jacobs house clearly shows his Lshaped plan utilized to increase privacy and center the home on the garden. 6 8 . Abrams. He used the horizontal line liberally. and focus on the family. Without allowing the space to feel or appear cramped.. Diane. and relied on a variety of means to compensate for the small size. and were accomplished through a variety of methods and innovations. proclaiming it to be the “line of domesticity.goals are at the heart of Wright’s Usonian house.6 He also used a compression-and-release tactic to make the house seem much larger on the inside by raising the ceiling and lowering the floor a few feet just inside the entrance.
9 . 7 Maddex. He often designed the homes in an L-shape around a private garden space. as well as shield the rest of the house from outside activity. On that public-facing wall especially. he placed a foyer to provide welcome and introduction to the home. Wright designed his homes to increase the privacy of the inhabitants. Finally.7 Figure 6: Pope-Leighey House entrance Tucked away behind the carport. with an enclosed opposite wall providing solitude from the public. the entrance of the Pope-Leighey House is both private and majestic. he hid the main entrance of the house.Along with his focus on the human scale. often requiring the enterer to follow a winding walkway to reach the door. 58. Wright often placed a number of clerestory windows to provide light without opening the house up to the commotion outside. Inside the entrance.
Once inside the house. 10 . he placed a hearth which. representing nature and family. although not specifically needed for heating. Wright completely opened up the living space. the inhabitants were enclosed in a community-oriented space that emphasized the family. and naturalness. community. Each of Wright’s Usonian houses contained a central fireplace. an essential component of any house in his mind. symbolizing family.Figure 7: Pope-Leighey House hearth Wright designed his homes to focus around the hearth. embodying his commitment to the people within the homes he built. At the center of this open area. connecting the dining and sitting areas in one fluid space. was essential for the soul of the house.
another essential element in Wright’s homes. He blurred the line between wall and window. Wright’s second major aim in designing his Usonian houses was to keep them as natural and organic as possible.8 When artificial lighting was required. 11 . 1950 This Usonian house faces a beautiful garden. He employed terraces and balconies to connect the indoor and outdoor spaces as well as draw the inhabitants out into nature. In word and action. and attempted to bring those natural surroundings inside wherever he could. He positioned the house with a great respect to the landscape. he 8 Maddex. In one of his earliest writings. In the composition of the house. He often composed corners completely out of glass. allowing the two walls to flow seamlessly into the outdoors. New Hampshire. casting aside the traditional concept of both in favor of a screen-like wall and floor-toceiling windows that allowed the outside to continually seep inside. a quality particularly unique during that era of American architecture. he exhibited exceptional deference to nature. mirroring the natural lighting of the sun. he relied heavily on natural materials for construction and natural colors for adornment. 34-36. Manchester. often found at the center of his L-shaped design.Figure 8: Zimmerman House. The garden was a vital part of the house. he designed it to be unobtrusive and indirect.
Wright allowed two panels of glass to intersect seamlessly to give the illusion that the home simply flows into the outdoors. Ohio. using instead a carport composed of a large.”9 Without fail. Canton. I am a child of hers.declared. 12 . He did away with the garage. At the corner. Figure 9: Ellis Feiman House. eliminating certain features that had previously been taken for granted as essential. “Nature is a good teacher. and apart from her precepts cannot flourish. 1954 The wall that separates this Usonian house from the outside is constructed entirely out of window banks. Finally. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Wright reinvented the concept of necessity in the home. With this in mind. Volume 1: 1894-1930. the Usonian house was based upon the need for affordability and efficiency. 31. open shelter 9 Pfeiffer. each and every one of Wright’s Usonian houses served as a tribute to nature.
Alabama. and reduced the kitchen and bathroom to minimal sizes. 39. Lind. one inch. maximizing the interior space. 13 . standardized units. 15.10 He combined the dining and living spaces into one open area.cantilevered into the structure of the house.12 These methods not only saved the clients valuable money. He used a highly efficient system of heating consisting of pipes of warm water running beneath the concrete floors. Florence. but also guided the house towards Wright’s desired aims of community and unified simplicity. 15. 12 Maddex. 1948 This view from the outside shows the cantilevered carport that took the place of the more expensive garage in the Usonian homes. Figure 10: Rosenbaum House.11 While remaining committed to natural materials. 10 11 Lind. and minimized the number of different materials used in each house. he gladly used them in inexpensive. eliminating the need for further additions. Furnishings and ornamentation were built into the actual structure of the house. The actual composition of the house was also formed on a basic grid consisting of vertical modules of one foot.
Wright oversaw the construction of the hotel in Tokyo.14 Whether Frank Lloyd Wright intentionally incorporated Japanese ideals into his work or whether his Usonian house and the traditional Japanese house simply have similar goals and thus similar means. 162-163. Commissioned in to design the Tokyo Imperial Hotel.13 Admittedly. 2. 14 . Kevin. 13 14 Pfeiffer. Between 1916 and 1922.The Usonian house was revolutionary for its time. Volume 1: 1894-1930. During an era of Europeaninspired architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Nute. Wright looked instead to Asian and Hispanic influences for his work. although he claimed that Japanese art did not directly influence his design. p. a closer look at Japanese architecture reveals striking similarities with Wright’s Usonian houses. going to great lengths to collect woodblock prints and making several trips to Japan for research as well as work. Wright agreed with many of the architectural and spiritual ideals that he discovered in the Japanese culture. but merely confirmed his own theories on architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. he spent a great deal of time and effort scrutinizing both ancient and modern Japanese architecture in order that his building would appropriately respond to its surroundings. He undoubtedly harbored a deep respect for Japanese artistic ideals. 1993).
It is quite simple for a foreigner to identify the traditional Japanese style of architecture. The house includes common elements of sukiya style architecture. a central garden. such as simple lines. Traditional Japanese houses were built upon a foundation of thousands of years of 15 . The Japanese theories and approaches to architecture are as elusive as they are distinctive. this building on the University of Illinois campus serves as a center for learning about Japanese culture.A Westerner’s Observations on Japanese Architecture Figures 11-12: Exterior and Interior of the Japan House. University of Illinois. based on its characteristic sukiya components. wooden construction. 1998 Built through a collaboration of Japanese and American designers. observers can easily identify the architecture as Japanese. and shoji. with its tatami mats and sliding shoji screens. Thus. fusuma. but it is decidedly more difficult to pinpoint the reasons for such uniformity throughout this Japanese aesthetic. tatami.
Through this list of features. there are multiple elements to describe the Japanese concept of the house. Japanese architecture is dictated by an overwhelming attention to spirituality. multifunctionality is an ever present theme in Japanese architecture. 16 Kasulis. Finally. as viewed by Westerners. Shinto: The Way Home (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. construction. a style dating back to the sixteenth century.16 Secondly. and design. 44. through the expression of the process of creating and then experiencing the house. there are multiple levels of use and intention. layout. and even today is revered amidst the increasing Western influences.12-13. The Classic Tradition in Japanese Architecture: Modern Versions of the Sukiya Style (New York: Weatherhill.cultural and religious history that dictated its means of structure. layout. Well known Japanese architectural writer Teiji Itoh claims that the reasons for the impressive durability of the sukiya style lie in its spiritual roots.15 However.. This type of design centers around naturalness and simplicity. 15 Itoh. while the materials and methods used to express these beliefs are allowed to change with time. and design. and. whether this characteristic is a means to these previously declared ends or an ends itself. In materials. The underlying philosophy of the sukiya style remains constant. Teiji. Thomas P. Found within this category are naturalness and simplicity. Such solid history has also led to an extremely sturdy set of philosophies and beliefs about the nature and role of architecture and the home. pp. as key elements of the Shinto religion. architectural honesty is crucial in Japanese design. The traditional style of Japanese architecture that is so distinctive to foreigners is known as sukiya. the sukiya style has survived excellently through history. 2004). 16 . 1972). although it never played a prominent role in modern Japanese architecture. As noted before with the sukiya style.
although it is by no means extensive. The houses themselves are composed of natural materials. and an absence of excessive decoration. Japanese rooms are stripped of all unnecessary objects and ornaments and composed of clean lines. particularly wood. First and foremost. Figure 13: The simple interior of a sukiya-style house reveals clean lines. and they are inextricably tied with nature and their surroundings. the natural wood structure. the distinctive Shinto characteristics of simplicity and naturalness are found throughout the traditional Japanese architecture of the home. Large sliding shoji panels are built into the house to open up the interior to the garden. one can begin to gain an insight into the Japanese concept of the architecture of the home. Ideally. When 17 . as necessary as a bathroom or kitchen. another essential element of the home.
43.closed. Tatsuo and Kiyoko.18 Furthermore. letting the natural outside seep seamlessly into the inside. even the bathroom is designed with acute consideration of Shinto beliefs. while the beautifully painted fusuma screens serve as flexible dividers between rooms. 18 Kasulis. p. 19 Kasulis. the shoji screens allow natural light to illuminate the entire room.19 Every aspect of the Japanese house is designed to be exquisitely minimalist and honor the Shinto traditions of naturalness and simplicity. The room is set up so that individuals would shower before entering the bath. 52-53. 28. while not innately natural. The Japanese House: Its Interior and Exterior (New York: Bonanza Books. Figure 14: The shoji panels of a Japanese room slide aside to expose a view of the garden. in order to facilitate total purification of the body and mind.17 The tatami mats used on the floor. are designed to efficiently and cleanly bring into the home the feel of straw. Ishimoto. 1963). 17 18 .
composed of the standard size of about three by six feet. the natural materials used in the house are expressed without remorse. Finally. but serve to keep the house clean and quiet. and shoji screens that can be opened to expose a main garden.21 Tatami mats not only provide a connection with nature. mirroring the Japanese association of directness with impoliteness.Secondly. Since visitors remove shoes before the house. The mats are extremely resilient. as well as the unfolding of the house. First. The interior wood is rarely painted. the house guides its visitors throughout it. and can be 20 21 Ishimoto. Furthermore. the Japanese house is designed to reveal itself to the visitor honestly and politely. 37. and the structure of the house is openly revealed. The rooms themselves are designed to be versatile. Futons are kept in the closet to be used at night and replaced during the day to open up the room for other uses. the path to the Japanese house approaches with a curve or diagonal line. they track in little dirt and make minimal sound on the soft mats. the Japanese home proves to be a gentle and honest experience. Typically at this point. The path takes the visitor through the entry gate by a small garden and up to the genkan. slowly introducing itself and opening up completely. or vestibule in which shoes are removed before entering the house. 19 .20 In both the materials and the layout. or sliding panels. 18-21. the house fully opens up to reveal several rooms separated by fusuma. the Japanese home embraces multifunctional materials and structures. through the appreciation of the materials used. used for sitting rooms during the daytime and bedrooms at night. a quality greatly appreciated in the open Japanese house. quite simply. Ishimoto. First of all.
and a wall becomes a door. the tatami mat serves as the floor module for traditional Japanese homes. By simply sliding a panel aside. Whether it is necessary because of the emphasis on simplicity.22 The shoji and fusuma panels allow the entire house to become mutable and adaptable. 22 Ishimoto. or it is a valued quality in itself. 22. Figure 15: Roughly three by six feet in dimension. two rooms become one room.easily removed for cleaning. 20 . multifunctionality is a key ingredient in the architecture of the Japanese home. a bedroom becomes a porch.
who have adopted a number of Japanese aesthetics and aims in their own set of architectural beliefs and practices. Rooted in the prized sukiya style.The home is a fantastic study in the many layers of Japanese aesthetics and philosophy. with its great deference to Shinto beliefs and its curious uniformity throughout the country. 21 . the appreciation for these beliefs has remained constant. the home becomes an incredible window into Japanese culture. Such values emphasized in the home have become increasingly attractive to Westerners. Although these values have changed significantly to accommodate modern and Western ideals.
Chinese. ancient 22 . While he commented extensively on various types of architecture.Frank Lloyd Wright Meets Japan Figure 16: Ho-o-den. there is neither form. an originator. he asserted. “While there is something Japanese. he never suggested that he copied any elements of outside design. Frank Lloyd Wright has often been called a pioneer. 1893 This elaborate display of Japanese architecture at the World’s Fair in Chicago was arguably Wright’s first true experience with Japanese architecture. Truly no one was more aware of this than Wright himself. nor pattern copied from any. In discussing his Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. an architectural inventor. World’s Columbian Exposition. and of other ancient forms living in this structure as all may see.
”23 Nonetheless. 23 . Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. 164. he would have been unable to escape the influence of the World’s Fair.25 After experiencing the disparity between the Eastern and Western buildings at the Fair. 61-62. the Ho-o-den stood out for its deviation from the traditional box form. Unsurprisingly. While Wright may not have intentionally copied any elements of Japanese architecture. As the press for the World’s Fair was unsurpassed. It is reverent to old Japan. In 1893. a bazaar. While European art and architecture dominated the fair. “I had just opened my office in 23 24 Pfeiffer. and a pavilion known as the Ho-o-den to house Japanese artworks. 48-49. a sizable Japanese exhibit displayed a number of buildings in the sukiya style of architecture. much of his architecture. and only increased as his work and influence progressed. his work undoubtedly paid homage to traditional Japanese aesthetic values. horizontal line emphasis. the World’s Columbian Exposition. Volume 1: 1894-1930. that is all. 25 Nute. his exposure to Japanese architecture occurred early in his career. Nute. including a tea house. Wright’s gradual conversion to an appreciation of Japanese aesthetics and architecture began the same year that he opened his own architectural practice. and unashamed combination of spiritual and domestic elements including a central organization around a shrine. Chicago hosted one of America’s most famous World’s Fairs. and as Wright was already involved in a number of Chicago’s cultural organizations. tends to be uncommonly “reverent to old Japan” compared to many American architects of his time. declaring. not just the Imperial Hotel.or modern.24 Sharply contrasted with the numerous surrounding European buildings. Wright expressed disgust for the overdone state of Western architecture.
1859 Wright adored Japanese woodblock prints such as this. The fair seemed to me more than ever a tragic travesty: florid countenance of theoretical BeauxArts formalisms. Although Wright had already begun to dabble in collecting Japanese woodblock prints. when came disaster—Chicago’s first World’s Fair. 1893. Figure 17: Satta no Kaijo. and by 1912 had written several essays praising the woodblock print for its 26 Nute 53. Fenollosa’s collection and knowledge allowed him to expand his own reservoir of artistic inspiration. and can affect the architecture of today and tomorrow in everchanging ways.the Schiller Building. by Hiroshige Suruga. a professor and art historian who had organized the Japanese art collection at the Fair. 24 . He collected prints steadily. Wright’s architecture of the 1900s. Ernest Fenollosa. was responsible for preserving an extensive number of Japanese fine art works.”26 After the Western world of architecture fell short. deliberately drawing from their composition in his own design. A prominent player at the World’s Columbian Exposition provided Wright with heightened access to such inspiration. Wright needed inspiration from a new source. The grand simplicity seen in this print affected Japanese architecture of the 1800s.
CA. Figure 18: Gamble House. the elimination of all that was insignificant. many artists 27 28 Pfeiffer. Pasadena. by Greene and Greene. 25 . It was the great gospel of simplification and that came over me. 116. 1908 The Greene brothers designed this house intentionally incorporating Japanese elements.28 Wright was smitten. Volume 1: 1894-1930. When Japan opened to the West in the mid-nineteenth century. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. in keeping with the popular Japonisme trend at the time. Wright was not the only architect to take notice of the Japanese aesthetic. I never got over my first experience with it and I shall never probably recover.superior loveliness and human meaning. However.”27 Possibly the closest that Wright ever came to declaring a debt to one source of inspiration occurred with his worship of the woodblock print: I have never confided to you the extent to which the Japanese print as such has inspired me. Pfeiffer. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings.“geometric form…. Volume 1: 1894-1930. 118. I hope I shan’t.
open floor plan. Figure 19: The Imperial Hotel. This sudden increase in the popularity of Japanese art forms became known as Japonisme. 26 . and extended to all facets of Western art.29 Albeit unconsciously. Wright certainly took part in the Japonisme way of thinking that had begun to infiltrate American architecture. Tokyo. A number of major architects at that time adopted this style. 18. becoming a crucial influence in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. and shoji-style windows. who openly siphoned the Japanese influence into their work. as well as a deliberate blending of Japanese and Western design. Their work on the West Coast utilized specifically Japanese elements such as the roof form and organization.and architects borrowed from its style. this hotel represents years of Wright’s study on Japanese architecture. 29 Nute. Japan Commissioned in 1916 and completed in 1923. such as the Greene brothers.
His Work. He began study and work on the hotel less than two years after the tragic fire at his home at Taliesin in which his mistress Mamah Cheney was killed. he immersed himself in the study of Japanese architecture and the design of the Imperial Hotel. Inc. he specifically channeled certain elements which he believed represented the heart of Japanese architecture. Volume 1: 1894-1930. 210. he delved more deeply into the ingrained spirituality of Japanese architecture. During this stage. Olgivanna Lloyd. The Imperial Hotel: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Architecture of Unity (Rutland: Charles E... 162-165. Wright spent an extensive amount of time studying the architectural history of Japan to design a hotel that would welcome foreign inhabitants and introduce them to Japan. 31 Wright. 1968) p. Wright purposely intended his Imperial Hotel to be a specifically Japanese building. unattainable by the Westerners practicing from secondhand prints. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. beginning with an almost exact copy of a traditional Japanese architectural layout. and he accepted a commission in 1915 to begin designing a hotel for foreign visitors to Japan. Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life.In the early 1900s. Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. 21. Wright began to fully immerse himself in Japanese culture. Tuttle Company.. 30 27 . His Words (New York: Horizon Press. and he had just begun to enter a stage of his life in which he was considered to be in exile. 1966) p.30 For the next seven years. James.”32 Thus. Cary. Retreating from the American scene.31 His scandalous relationship with his mistress had put him out of favor with American society. He traveled to Japan for the first time in 1905. 32 Pfeiffer.that showed a real love for Japan. a “tribute to Japan” in the capital city in which “there was not a single building.
33 Bryant. Anthony J.” 2001.sengokudaimyo. quite possibly impressed by its uniquely Japanese qualities. around the eighth to twelfth century. a style of architecture known as shinden-zukuri became popular. this plan includes a central shinden (sleeping room). (7 April 2008).com/shinden/Shinden. During the Heian period in Japan. Japan. <http://www. two adjoining wataridono (verandas). Tokyo. 1916 The floor plan of Wright’s Imperial Hotel mirrors the traditional shinden-zukuri layout. “Shinden-Zukuri Estates of the Heian Period.. Wright would be forever affected by their influence. and two long ro (corridors). which highlights the shinden. After spending seven years submerged in the study of Japanese forms and constructions.html>. or sleeping hall. One of the first specifically Japanese architectural layouts operating without any Chinese influence.33 Wright utilized this traditional Japanese style almost exactly in his development of the Imperial Hotel floor plan. three flanking tai no ya (pavilions). 28 .Figure 20: Shinden-Zukuri Style Floor Plan Figure 21: Imperial Hotel Floor Plan.
and incorporated these principles as he pleased into his own modern creations.Wright fostered a complex and contradictory relationship with Japanese art and architecture. a practice that he despised. Pfeiffer. Wright identified with the principles behind the art and architecture of Japan. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Volume 1: 1894-1930. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. He avidly collected woodblock prints and shamelessly credited them for his inspiration. He loved the art and hated the architecture.” and yet by 1906 he had amassed an impressive collection of woodblock prints. his buildings would be inexplicably and increasingly tied to Japanese aesthetics. Wright delved into traditional Japanese architecture forms and practices to create the Imperial Hotel. he responded. which Wright himself labeled a Japanese-inspired building. Whether intentional or not. Volume 1: 1894-1930. stating. 165. but used principles of both in his own work.35 From 1916 to 1923.”34 When a historian attempted to point out the Japanese influences in Wright’s early architecture. Rather than imitate architectural elements. he heavily critiqued Japanese architects for their aesthetic decisions and their willingness to imitate foreign design components in their modern architecture. “I knew nothing of Japanese Architecture until I first saw it in 1906. 34 35 Pfeiffer. At the same time. 29 . 258. “Japanese architects have betrayed their country.
Frank Lloyd Wright. coupled with the six years he spent working and studying in Japan. Hasui Figure 23: Goetsch-Winkler House. Nonetheless. Without a doubt. he claimed stoutly that Japanese work did not directly and formally affect 30 . Okemo. 1939 This woodblock print from Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection mirrors this image of one of his earlier Usonian homes. Wright could not escape the influence of Japanese aesthetics in his design work. MI. Frank Lloyd Wright harbored a particular fondness for Japanese art.The Kinship of the Usonian House and Japanese Home Figure 22: Evening at Tagonoura. After his careful study of Japanese artwork. seen in his great efforts to collect Japanese woodblock prints and his willingness to accept the commission for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in 1916.
along with a profound appreciation for beauty.his architecture. the Usonian house and the Japanese home share outstanding similarities in their structure. 2. First of all. layout. 31 . While Japanese qualities appeared in a great number of Wright’s grander homes.36 Whether conscious or unconscious. connecting the inside of the home with the outside world. Instead. the core of Japanese domestic architecture. The 36 Nute. Both houses embodied the same principles of naturalness and harmony. both give careful consideration to nature and the surroundings. Wright conceived the Usonian idea as the solution to the need for affordable American housing without sacrificing his aesthetic convictions. the deeply rooted philosophies of Japanese architecture can be found most truly at the heart of the Usonian home. The Japanese and Usonian houses share four major concepts that implement themselves in similar manners throughout the homes. The combination of this attention to nature and the simplicity required for efficiency and affordability in a Usonian house created a building that exemplified the Shinto characteristics present throughout nearly all traditional Japanese architecture. At the forefront of these convictions stood the requirement that a structure must acknowledge and appreciate its surroundings. the similarities between the Japanese home and Wright’s houses are abundant. Simplicity. not shield the inhabitants from them. Second. and composition. both give special attention to the entryway to enhance the experiential quality of the home. was the key to the success of the Usonian home. A formal comparison of these two initially very different types of homes reveals these similarities in both conceptualization and implementation. he maintained that a closer study of Japanese architecture merely validated his own beliefs. With such parallel core values.
actual structures of both homes include an appreciation for openness and a direct disregard for the typical box shape of the house. guiding the enterer to approach the house at an angle and up steps in order to fully experience the home. the implementations of these concepts produce equivalent structural qualities in both the Usonian and Japanese house. the entrance room where one can remove shoes and greet the host before entering and experiencing the house. Figure 25: Kentuck Knob entrance. both homes share an affinity for aesthetic simplicity. An Experience Beginning at the Entrance Figure 24: This quiet pathway passes gardens to the genkan at the left. Finally. 1. fluid process. Chalk Hill. Both Wright and the Japanese tradition scorned the idea of the house as a static container for the inhabitants. guiding the inhabitant into and throughout it as a constant. The house would gradually introduce itself to the visitor. Within each category as well. They believed that the home was meant to be an experience. Pennsylvania Wright likewise emphasized the entrance of his Usonian houses. slowly and purposefully unfolding. The 32 .
39 Without fail. The path to a Japanese home draws a winding or diagonal route to the entrance.38 While the reasons for the construction of these entranceways may have differed. but essential participants in the introduction of a dwelling to its dweller. 39 Black. they found themselves inevitably in the genkan. Alexandra. or foyer. 33 . He designed his Usonian houses with indirect paths as well. believing that a doorway should be proportional to the wall and welcoming to the inhabitants as they entered their home.37 Wright also emphasized the entrance more than most residential architects of the time. Before they reach the actual building. 31. with the aim of enhancing the experience of the house as well as the privacy of the inhabitants. shielding the remainder of the house from 37 38 Ishimoto. 2000) pp. Maddex. this critical first impression when a visitor meets the home. 18. in keeping with the Japanese view that directness equals impoliteness. Often the entry would include a gate for privacy and embellishment of the doorway into the home.key to the house’s evolution into an experience lay in the careful treatment of the entrance to the home. Once individuals entered the Japanese house. Such an entry completed the goal of facilitating the transition from outside to inside. of the home in which they removed their shoes before entering the actual house. viewing this entryway as necessary in a house otherwise stripped of superfluity. individuals are guided to approach the Usonian and Japanese homes in similar manners. they produced quite similar results. The Japanese House: Architecture and Interiors (Boston: Tuttle Publishing. 90-91. The foyer served the vital purposes of welcoming the enterer. Wright included a foyer in his Usonian homes as well. The entrance path and doorway were no longer an afterthought.
Bringing the Outside In Figure 26: The garden is an essential component of any Japanese house. and stone sculptures. 58. rocks. Figure 27: Zimmerman House Additionally. 34 . overall providing a gentle transition from the outside to inside and properly welcoming the enterer. Wright’s Usonian houses were not complete without Japanese-inspired gardens including carefully placed rocks and shrubbery. causing the actual living space to seem grand and open. 40 Maddex.outdoor chaos. transitioning from outdoors to indoors. Entry foyers played important parts in both the Japanese and Usonian homes.40 As the inhabitant stepped just beyond the entry room. the ceiling raised several feet. often including greenery. 2. and playing a key role in the compression-and-release tactic that Wright frequently used to make his homes appear larger than they actually were.
but beyond that. basement. windows. and materials revealed the reverence of nature shown by each. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Wright eliminated many accepted components of the house such as a garage. Wright stated with veneration. The house should not shield the inhabitants from the outside. Pfeiffer. but invite them to experience it more deeply. He maintained strict beliefs about the role and characteristics of the garden of a home. The Usonian and Japanese homes both fully embraced this concept. the garden held a prominent role in both houses.” and did not attempt the hide the similarities between the Japanese garden and his Usonian gardens. the very treatment of walls. “Japan is Garden-land. Although Wright typically forbade any added ornamentation in his houses. lighting. as well as blur the line between architecture and nature. Unsurprisingly. The common L-shape of the Usonian house served the distinct purpose of focusing the home around the garden. but it should be an experience of nature and the surrounding landscape. 177. and attic. abandoning artificial planting and pruning techniques. In an effort to increase the affordability and efficiency of the Usonian house.42 Both valued the naturalness of the plants. however. 35 . he allowed his commissioners to use Japanese stone structures in the gardens. such as the 41 42 Maddex. stating that only native plants should be used.Not only should the house be simply any experience. Volume 1: 1894-1930. giving attention to nature in virtually every aspect of the house. 41.41 The garden was perhaps the most distinctly Japanese of any of the features of the Usonian house. and arranged in a natural growing situation to preserve and even enhance the landscape as much as possible. he considered the garden an essential element.
Iowa. they further opened the home to the garden and surroundings. Buchanan County. 44.43 The structure and layout of both houses centered on the garden. 1950 The living area of this Usonian home also focuses entirely on the garden.lantern added to the Palmer House in Michigan. automatically giving it great importance. with the division between interior and exterior blurred by large panels of windows. Figure 29: Cedar Rock. Through the use of similar techniques in dealing with the walls and windows of the home. Figure 28: The banks of windows surrounding the tatami room of this large-scale Japanese house allow the inhabitant to completely experience the garden while still inside. 36 . 43 Maddex.
37 .44 Walls were not designed to be permanent barriers.”45 Using the cantilever for which he became so famous.Walls and windows in the Japanese home were virtually interchangeable. Windows were simply the absence of these walls. 44 45 Ishimoto. but rather temporary definitions of a space. 34. he could do away with the rigid Western wall that served structural purposes.46 While Wright did not completely convert to the Japanese method of screens instead of walls and windows. Maddex. 36. Often he even extended the windows all the way to the end of the wall. While Wright did not completely throw away the Western idea of a wall. 28-29. he specifically and admittedly treated them as such. completely eliminating the visual corner of a home and giving the house the feeling of seamlessly extending to the outside. They became the physical link between the Japanese and Western views of enclosures. walls became windows and doors at will.” serving as yet another flexible means of enclosing an area. and molded his free-standing “screen” into the precise aesthetic module that he wished. Typical Western architecture treated walls as firm barriers with holes in them for windows. he did profess to the attempt to develop them into “the function of a screen. 46 Maddex. He referred to his window banks as “light screens. opening the entire structure of the house and providing the perfect view of the garden outside. Wright’s penchant for glass became apparent in frequent floor-to-ceiling windows present in great panels along the sides of his homes. Through the use of sliding shoji screens. Wright combined the Japanese and Western concepts of enclosures to produce a Usonian hybrid version of walls and windows.
he did attempt to incorporate lighting as indirectly and smoothly as he could. natural lighting and candles illuminated the homes. First of all. but clearly Wright could not rely on only these methods in his Usonian homes for modern America. he used large panels of open glass and clerestory windows whenever possible. the fireplace. another essential element of the Usonian 38 . However. instead of the Western concept of window holes and swing doors. Figure 31: Pope-Leighey House interior Although he did not use the traditional fusuma and shoji.Figure 30: The interior of a Japanese home is divided by sliding fusuma panels and shoji screens. In traditional Japanese houses. Additionally. Wright incorporated the Japanese concept of interior divisions by using floor-to-ceiling window banks and screen-like walls. which slide away to create windows and doors in between rooms and to the outside.
house, provided light and warmth during the evening. For required artificial light after sunset, instead of the heavy, obvious light fixtures in the center of the ceiling of typical Western houses, he relied on smaller, soft lighting elements incorporated into the structural lines of the house. He concealed the actual fixtures and aimed them to reflect off of the ceilings and walls to provide an unobtrusive light mimicking diffused sunlight.47
Figure 32: This Japanese tatami room is bathed in soft lighting that seeps through the shoji screens and indirect lighting from hidden sources overhead.
Figure 33: The Brandes House interior, Sammamish, Washington, 1952 The living space of this Usonian house is lit by banks of windows as well as concealed fixtures from above that blend into the structure of the room.
Wright’s final touch in completely wedding the house with the surroundings lay in his use of materials. In many of his homes, he completely prohibited the use of steel. While he used concrete and brick as needed, he truly loved stone, glass, and wood above all. In his 1928 essays entitled “The Meaning of Materials,” he wrote:
Wood is universally beautifully to man. And yet, among higher civilizations, the Japanese understood it best….No Western peoples ever used wood with such understanding as the Japanese did in their construction—where wood always came up and came out as nobly beautiful.48 Wright wrote of wood and nature’s materials with an almost religious reverence, describing himself as a servant of nature. He persistently used natural materials in all of his houses, especially his Usonian houses which embodied his personal architectural theories for America. Although he failed to include Japan as a “higher civilization,” such writings and actions revealed an attitude of thorough respect and understanding for the Japanese spiritual characteristics manifested in architecture.
Figure 34: This traditional Japanese home of wood, stone, and thatch blends easily into the natural landscape.
Figure 35: Friedman House, Pleasantville, New York, 1948 Wright religiously used the natural materials of wood and stone to unify his Usonian houses with the surroundings.
Pfeiffer, Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings, Volume 1: 1894-1930, 277.
3. Breaking the Box, Inside and Out
Figure 36: For centuries, Japanese architecture has been based around the standard module of the 90 x 180 cm tatami mat that allows for a flexible and efficient floor plan.
Figure 37: Palmer House, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1950 The floor plan of this unusual Usonian home reveals Wright’s playfulness with various modules for his houses. The triangular base for this home allows for easy yet unique construction.
At the time of the Usonian house, the typical plan for the American home, particularly the mass-produced American home, consisted of a rectangle with rectangular interior rooms. This concept disgusted Wright. He believed in building a house from the inside out, placing rooms as needed and then allowing this created interior space to dictate the exterior. He removed the bound box as the determinant for the overall floor plan of the house, the individual room shape, and the structural module. This idea, revolutionary to American architecture at the time, had already been in practice for ages in the Japanese home.
In keeping with the flexibility of the floor plan. The plan of the Palmer House in Ann Arbor. Likewise. Additionally. while the Hanna House in Palo Alto. They typically did not fit into a single neat rectangle. Lind. 36. relied on a triangular building module. While this building block frequently did take a block shape. Wright used a basic structural module to build his houses. 42 . Using a smaller module allowed Wright the cost efficiency of mass production as well as the flexibility of a building block. Wright’s Usonian houses opened in a variety of manners according to the landscape and the appropriate interior spaces. and often allowed the kitchen or entryway to flow into the space as well. with rooms that could be moved around as needed. both the Usonian house and Japanese house opened up their interior spaces as well. In order to accommodate this type of construction and remain reasonably affordable. but produced a plan with rooms jutting out to the side as needed. rooms could be freely blended to create spaces of any size.The Japanese house consistently implemented a fluid floor plan. it was not limited to that form. 22. Wright simply eliminated divisions in interior spaces altogether. allowing them to freely extend where needed.50 49 50 Ishimoto. Due to the shoji screens used as dividers in the Japanese house. 37. both the Japanese and Usonian houses opened into the outside garden space through the use of shoji screens and glass panels respectively. He combined the living and dining areas into one large space. California.49 The focus is on the desired layout of the rooms rather than a dictated space in which to enclosing them. He arranged the interior spaces on a grid. Michigan. consisted of a hexagonal design.
along with traditional paintings on the fusuma panels. airy floor modules have standardized Japanese room and house sizes for centuries. Figure 39: The Johnson House. Oberlin. Ohio. a distinctively Japanese architectural element. 1950 Wright allowed only simple ornamentation in his Usonian houses.51 While Wright varied the shape of his module from house to house. intent on expressing the beauty of the structural lines and intersections. Only minimal artistic additions graced his homes. such as this artfully chosen floor rug. these soft. clean. the basic concept arose from the tatami mat. Approximately 90 by 180 centimeters. 51 Black. arises from Japanese construction. Most Japanese architectural spaces have been and still are measured in terms of tatami mats. 4. 43 . 8. Aesthetic Simplicity Figure 38: Decoration in the interior of Japanese homes is contained to the aesthetically conscious structure of the wooden supports.This modular conceptualization. while somewhat innovative to American design.
these buildings were by no means plain. Furthermore. Occasional furnishings could be found. plants. usually tucked away so as to remain flush with the wall. or wooden sliding screens. pay homage to the arts. with great consideration given to details such as the wooden ribbing on the doors or walls. the fusuma. as shelves and closets were built into the home. Traditional Japanese houses. focusing on the structural beauty of the home rather than relying on outside ornamentation. allowing them to be innately beautiful and therefore requiring no additional ornamentation or furnishings.While a commitment to simplicity directed the decor of both the Usonian and Japanese homes. often sported beautifully painted murals. 50. Not only did this save money for the inhabitants. in and of themselves. the careful bordering of each opening in a division. but overall the interior decoration was extremely restrained so as to focus on the natural beauty of the outside garden framed by exquisitely arranged screens. but it supported the belief in the holiness of simplicity and naturalness. while wooden panels above the fusuma occasionally contained wooden cutouts of animals. The structural composition and lines are aesthetically conscious. or shapes. He emphasized the structural lines of the house as an aesthetic focal point rather than concealing the structure with siding and placing decoration on top of the siding. and the precise geometric construction of every face of the room. Wright adopted many of the same ideas in his Usonian house. The structure of the houses absorbed the decoration.52 Furniture was kept to a minimum. He included ornament within the structural components of the house. 44 . Futons for sleeping and cushions for sitting were kept in the closets until needed. using carved panels of 52 Black.
wood and delicate intersections of materials. and simplicity. Volume 1: 1894-1930. In concept and in practice the Usonian house wholly mirrors the traditional Japanese home. then again more furniture and more fixtures with touches of deciduous bric-a-brac to give an excuse for still more furniture and stupid ornamentation. The Usonian house follows directly in the footsteps of the Japanese home from the very entranceway. naturalness.”53 No. 53 Pfeiffer. 30. Wright refused to allow decorative additions to his homes that did not correspond with the spirit of the house. Whether out of respect for architectural purity or a conviction of his own artistic superiority. to its unfolding within. his Usonian houses exist as tributes to their ideals of harmony. None of his Usonian houses would be subject to the muddled mess he believed of contemporary European-inspired homes with their “furniture and fixtures everywhere—furniture and fixtures. to the materials of composition. He built seating and shelves into the room and designed furniture specifically for the house. While Wright never gave true credit to the Japanese architectural tradition. He too streamlined the room and framed the windows to rely on the natural and dynamic portrait of the outside garden as opposed to hanging pictures on a wall. removing the need for furnishing efforts. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. 45 . and finally to the outward expression of those materials. Japanese structural simplicity would guide the organization of his homes.
this practice allows architects to pass along traditional building values throughout the years.54 Additionally. Every twenty years. the Ise Jingu shrine has regularly pays homage to ancient Shinto beliefs. the shrine is rebuilt. which can be utilized with modern building capabilities. 685 This Shinto shrine to the sun goddess Amaterasu is rebuilt every twenty years to mirror the Shinto beliefs of death and rebirth. Ise: Prototype of Japanese Architecture. as well as to pass along spiritually based architectural practices. Japanese architectural values were not meant to be timespecific. 54 Tange. 1965. Initially built in 685 CE. almost exactly mirroring its original construction. and great pains have been taken to ensure this rebirth. 46 . but to be regularly reborn in new eras with new manifestations. In the Mie prefecture of Japan stands one of the oldest examples of Japanese architecture. Cambridge: MIT Press. Kenzo and Noboru Kawazoe. Thus the shrine actively displays the Shinto values of the natural life cycle of death and regeneration.Conclusion: “An Architecture for Our Own Changed Life Conditions” Figure 40: Ise Jingu Shrine. 14. Mie. Japan.
through the use of natural materials and lighting. there was a continuous effort to bring the outside in. but a way of life that will never age or expire. and as seen through a comparison of his Usonian house with the Japanese house. Inside the house. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Wright’s imitation of specific architectural elements of the Japanese home is debatable. these theories translated similarly in both homes. both houses embraced decoration already built into the structure of the house rather than tacking on additional ornamentation. He declared. both houses focused on becoming experiences for their dwellers. not a trend or a fad in architecture. “I came to Japan to show how an organic expression of the ancient spirit of architecture was possible in new terms in modern times. 47 . guiding them into and throughout the house by emphasizing the entranceway. However. The Japanese aesthetic is timeless. Wright simply embraced these ideals and updated them for modern architecture. These innovative openings instead of conventional Western walls and windows allowed Wright and the Japanese architects to reorganize the home in a free and flexible form instead of the customary box.The ancient Shinto beliefs in naturalness and simplicity guided Wright’s architecture in the twentieth century just as it had guided Japanese architecture for centuries before. it still revealed many similarities with the Japanese home in practice as well as in principle. rooted in one of humanity’s oldest religions. First of all. and open screens to allow in more natural light and scenery. Volume 1: 1894-1930. 162.”55 This is the 55 Pfeiffer. These ideals were manifested in very similar ways in both the traditional Japanese home and the Usonian house. Finally. While the Usonian house exhibited a number of modern concessions in order to serve twentieth-century Americans. a central garden. his adoption of Japanese architectural theories is certain.
56 Pfeiffer. In discussing the Japanese approach to architecture. what Frank Lloyd Wright did. organic. affordable architecture today and in any age. 48 . As cultures grow and change. Volume 1: 1894-1930. and what must be done today. new architecture becomes necessary. efficient.essence of the Usonian house—a modern reincarnation of the Japanese home to serve nature and the everyday human. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. “We too must create an architecture for our own changed life conditions. but to allow the time-tested principles of the past to guide appropriate architectural products for the present. the same ideals that drove the early Japanese home and then the Usonian house of the 1900’s can inspire beautiful. However.”56 It is not up to the architect to copy the products of the past. Wright himself confirmed that traditional Japanese theories of architecture can be utilized in modern times to create beautiful and affordable organic architecture. Whether the Japanese influence was intentional or not. 78. This is what the Japanese did. Wright asserted. A purely traditional Japanese home would not be practical in modern America.
Inc. The Imperial Hotel: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Architecture of Unity. 1966. 1994. Ed. New York: Rizzoli International Publications.. <http://www. Lind. Wright. The Japanese House: Its Interior and Exterior. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks. 1968. Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life. 2003. Tuttle Company. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses. Itoh. Cary. Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Sergeant. Diane. James. (7 April 2008). Bruce Brooks. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Volume 4: 19391949. Pfeiffer. The Classic Tradition in Japanese Architecture: Modern Versions of the Sukiya Style.sengokudaimyo.. Ishimoto.BIBLIOGRAPHY Works Cited: Black. 2004. Abrams. The Japanese House: Architecture and Interiors. Boston: Tuttle Publishing. 1976. Maddex.. 1972. New York: Horizon Press. New York: Bonanza Books. John. Thomas P. Olgivanna Lloyd.com/shinden/Shinden.” 2001. New York: Harry N. Wright-Sized Houses: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solutions for Making Small Houses Feel Big. Inc. 1993. His Words. Inc. Anthony J. 1992. Shinto: The Way Home. Nute. 1994. Rutland: Charles E. Ed. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Alexandra. “Shinden-Zukuri Estates of the Heian Period. New York: Rizzoli International Publications.html>. 49 . Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings. Kevin. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses: The Case for Organic Architecture. 1963.. Carla. Pfeiffer. Volume 1: 18941930. Teiji. Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan. Kasulis. His Work. Tatsuo and Kiyoko. 2000. Bruce Brooks. New York: Weatherhill. Inc. Bryant.
8.co. 13.com/culturegrrl/2007/01/ http://www.html http://www.pl/tradycyjne-japonskie-wnetrze-mieszkalne-gra-swiatla-i-cienia http://www.com/Frank%20Lloyd%20Wright/Frank%20Lloyd%20Wright.com/groups/iad/links/jlwright/lloyd_wright5.edu/future/campuslife/photos/japanhouse.org.com/flwtrip/pope1a.com/tours/thatch_roof_volunteer.html http://www.htm http://www.edu/~dhuffman/soc306/I98grp9/ http://www.answers.htm http://www. 31.oar. 10.uiuc.htm http://www.edu/sacredplaces/ise.princetonol. 25.education.americanpopularculture.com/topic/rosenbaum-house http://japanesecarpentry.htm http://www.html http://www.com/LeadingStories/aug06/zimmerman.html http://www.delmars. 32.html http://www.onelifejapan.emis.com/buildings/kentuckknob/index.uk/boston/new_england_buildings.html http://www.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/FLW_usonian.oberlin.html http://www. 33.com/photos/lyndonwong/406953479/ http://www.htm http://www.or.de/journals/NNJ/conferences/N1998-Eaton. 23.html http://xroads. 11. 19.com/flwtrip/pope1a.oar.htm http://www.html http://www. 38.mil/off_base_rentals.sengokudaimyo.htm http://www.blogspot. 34.org/fllw/ih.org/history/index. 6.htm http://www. 39. 21.htm http://pruned.html http://www.geishawalk.bc.curriculumsupport.cnfj. 7.net/interests/flw_rt/Michigan/Goetsch_Winckler_House/goetschwinckler_house.com/flwtrip/pope2a.peterbeers. 37. 5.kayaprajna.htm http://www. 15. 17.gov.com/shinden/Shinden.flickr.htm http://www.html http://www. 12. 3. 22. 16.kippo.com/gateway/fareast.sbc.html http://www.com/2006/02/encyclopedia-retrofuturologica.html http://www.Images: 1.asp?num=24985 http://witcombe.e-architect.aspx?navigationSubType=itemdetails&itemID=23 286239 http://www.au/secondary/languages/ japanese/nihongocentre/facilities/facilities. 14.virginia.com/journal/articles/fall_2004/hellman.html http://thelivesandtimes.com/iowa_cedar_rock. 30. 26.org/keidai_annai/houjou/houjou.com/subscribers/feature_detail.htm http://www.jp/culture_e/build/measure. 4. 28.htm http://www.galinsky.worldandi.galenfrysinger.html http://www.northeastjournal. 9.edu/future/campuslife/photos/japanhouse. 27.com/8 http://housing. http://www.htm http://www.com/2007/08/ellis-feiman-house-one-of-frank-lloyd.bridgewater.com/info.bolender.planetclaire.html 50 .uiuc.com/detail-c870.edu/amam/flwright.delmars. 35.ukiyoe-gallery.edu/~CLASS/am483_95/projects/wright/uson.com/popup2. 20.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/1893fair. 2. 29.japonia.nsw.html http://www.blogspot. 36. 24.ikkyuji.jupiterimages.bc. 40.gamblehouse.html http://www.navy. 18.artsjournal.delmars.
PART II The Creation of a Modern Japanese-Usonian Hybrid: Time-Tested Values in Today’s Architecture 51 .
52 . as well as several additional elements to update the house to today’s modern standards. the type of materials and use of space were valued. The focus lies in quality. using the influence and ingenuity of the Usonian house and the Japanese home. Costs were cut wherever possible. It is intended to be an affordable. organic accommodation for the average. the home can be easily altered to accommodate a number of locations. such as in the amount of space and materials used. This home is intended to connect the inhabitants with the environment rather than shield them from it. middle class American citizen. not quantity. This small home of only 792 square feet can comfortably house a family of four. and in a strong relationship between the house and the surroundings. A variety of unique aspects of the Usonian and Japanese houses were also selected for inclusion in the design. The common elements between the Japanese and Usonian houses that were outlined in the previous section provided the basis for the design.House Description The following images and explanations describe a house designed for twenty-first century America. While built with attention to directional orientation. however.
• Tatami: Synthetic tatami mats are to be used on the floor of the house in all of the rooms except for the bathhouse. Compression/release: As one enters the house. Usonian elements: • • • Carport: Instead of the more expensive garage. will be used to preserve the living space and allow for more storage. they must step up into a compressed space of only seven feet and must walk through a short hallway 53 . as used in Japanese homes to store futons. • Screens: The large banks of windows on the front and back of the house can be shielded using translucent screens similar to Japanese shoji screens. the house includes simpler carport. They can be left open as well to provide for an even more open floor plan and communal space. This mat can be easily cleaned and muffles sound. Toilets are emphasized less and given only an essential amount of space. Hearth: A central fireplace unites the living space and emphasizes communality.Japanese elements: • Bathhouse: The house includes a proportionally large bathhouse with a Japanese style tub and open shower. • Sliding panels: The bedrooms can be divided from the rest of the house using sliding panels that directly mirror the Japanese fusuma panels. • Exposed wooden structure: The wooden structure of the roof and joints are exposed and emphasized in expressively honest architecture. • Closets: Proportionally large closets built into the wall.
and the siding is 2’ panels of wood. the inhabitant must move through a walkway that gradually opens up into the main living space. but when needed. This makes the small house feel much larger inside. Once inside the house. indirect lighting shines from the sides of the beams to bounce off the ceiling and provide a softer glow. organic feel. • Heating: Pipes embedded in the foundation below the house contain hot water to quietly and efficiently heat the house from the floor. Large panels of glass open up the home and allow for increased ventilation. as well as to improve overhead natural light. • Roof: Different sections of the house are given different levels according to their function. • Bringing the outside in: Wood and stone were incorporated wherever possible to give the home a natural. Rather than enclose the house in one small box.before the height increases both from raising the ceiling and lowering the floor. it spreads where needed to provide optimum light and shade to the various parts of the home. Combined elements • An experience beginning at the entrance: The pathway to the house includes a stone walkway surrounded by greenery winding from either the street or carport to encourage one to slowly and appreciatively enter the home. • Breaking the box inside and out: The house is designed on a grid of essentially six 12’x12’ squares. • Lighting: Natural light is utilized wherever possible. 54 . The windows are composed of 2’ panels of glass.
but many of his builders added them as needed without his knowledge. more open kitchen for leisurely cooking. Wright refused to incorporate steel supports into his homes. 55 .• Aesthetic simplicity: Clean lines compose the home. considering it merely a place for necessary work. as he felt that it detracted from the honesty of the material expression. and the natural support and structure is emphasized as the beauty of the house. • Large kitchen: Both Usonian houses and Japanese houses deemphasized the kitchen. This modern home will include a larger. Additional elements: • Steel support: Modern steel supports are to be used within the structure.
Model Pictures 56 .
Model Drawings Elevations 59 .
Floor Plan 60 .
Interior Perspective 61 .