As architects we strive to inspire. There’s no Standard Operating Procedure or RIBA module as part of our qualification, but very often it’s this dimension which gives a new building that something, an edge; a personality. The approach is individual and varies from project to project, client to client. A recent discussion of this very topic with a new client prompted our Practice Director Peregrine Mears to reflect on his architectural inspirations. There are many, but the first was Mr Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright.
A documentary film about the great man seen as part of an A Level Art course at the age of 17 crystallised Perry’s thoughts. The inspiration was profound and his career course set. Considered by many to be Wright’s masterpieces and Perry’s two favourites, are Fallingwater in the mountains of Pennsylvania & The Guggenheim in New York. In 2019 UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed Fallingwater and seven other Frank Lloyd Wright designed sites to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Fallingwater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as the weekend home of Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann and exemplifies Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature. Reputedly inspired by a picnic by the river, the house consists of a series of horizontal planes, partly cantilevered over a waterfall where said picnic apparently took place. The daring dynamic form and sheer audacity of the idea are just mesmerising.
“It’s a space of walking through and being relieved from the normal conditions of the world, because there’s no horizon line, there is no straight path, there’s no verticals, there’s no horizontals”.
With The Guggenheim, Wright broke all he established rules. No formal levels at ground, first or second floors but rather a ramp spirals upward, with the museum’s collection displayed along the ramp as it coils toward the museum’s glass ceiling. One contemporary commentator tried to explain it.
“It’s a space of walking through and being relieved from the normal conditions of the world, because there’s no horizon line, there is no straight path, there’s no verticals, there’s no horizontals”. The building is an absolute expression of FLW’s mantra that “Form Follows Function”, (borrowed from his mentor Louis Sullivan).
Controversial, yes. Liked by everyone, no. Iconic, certainly! Opened on 21st October 1959, many are inspired to visit New York to see this work of art; including Perry who took the photo above.
Frank Lloyd Wright continues to be an inspiration to us as a practice – he famously quipped that if as an Architect you visit a site and the right design concept doesn’t start to form in your imagination within 24 hours, it never will! A lesson that has stayed with Perry to this day!
Peregrine Mears Architects are RIBA Chartered Architects serving a diverse range of clients from offices in Exeter and Barnstaple in Devon and Truro in Cornwall. We are working on a variety of residential and commercial projects throughout the south west and indeed nationwide, all of which provide opportunities to inspire!