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AD Classics: The Farnsworth House - A Harmonious Blend of Architecture and Nature

CEO Khai Intela
The Farnsworth House, designed by Mies van der Rohe, is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends architecture and nature. Nestled in Plano, Illinois, this glass pavilion stands as a testament to Mies' vision of a strong...

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House, designed by Mies van der Rohe, is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends architecture and nature. Nestled in Plano, Illinois, this glass pavilion stands as a testament to Mies' vision of a strong relationship between a house and its surroundings. Built between 1945 and 1951, the Farnsworth House was initially intended as a weekend retreat for Dr. Edith Farnsworth, offering her a tranquil escape from the bustling city of Chicago.

An Architectural Marvel

The Farnsworth House is a single-story structure supported by eight I-shaped steel columns, which serve both as a structural feature and an expression of architectural brilliance. These columns are strategically placed to allow floor-to-ceiling windows to adorn the entire house. As a result, the interior spaces are flooded with natural light, while the lush greenery of the surrounding woods becomes an integral part of the living experience.

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

Mies' genius lies in his use of these windows to connect the interior with its tranquil surroundings. Instead of relying on artificial means for privacy and shading, he embraced the beauty of nature itself. In an interview, he shared his philosophy behind the glass pavilion, stating, "Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity."

A Delicate Dance with Nature

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

To minimize its impact on the land, Mies raised the house 5 feet 3 inches above the ground, allowing the landscape to flow beneath it. The mullions of the windows also serve a dual purpose, providing structural support for the floor slab. This elevates the ground floor and creates a sense of weightlessness as the steps delicately ascend to the entrance. The open floor plan, with walls only enclosing the bathrooms, embraces the principles of true minimalism.

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

Mies was also mindful of the potential danger posed by flooding, as the Farnsworth House is located just 100 feet away from the Fox River. To protect the house, he designed it at an elevation he believed would withstand the highest predicted floods, which occur approximately every hundred years. However, unforeseen developments in the Chicago area resulted in increased water runoff, leading to more frequent floods. The interior of the house has experienced flooding on multiple occasions, with the most recent occurrence in 2008.

Simple Elegance in Design

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

While the Farnsworth House faced challenges in terms of maintenance and livability, including complaints about poor ventilation and cost overruns, its impact on the world of architecture cannot be overstated. Its artistic design, rooted in simplicity, became a source of inspiration for other iconic works such as Philip Johnson's Glass House.

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

The geometric form of the Farnsworth House creates a harmonious relationship with its surrounding landscape, exemplifying the essence of dwelling in its purest form. Mies captured this sentiment perfectly when he said, "If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature—it becomes part of a larger whole."

AD Classics: The Farnsworth House

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