Updated: Dec 13, 2019
For many of us, this house is unfamiliar. If it weren't for my architectural studies, you better believe I'd have no idea about this truly incredible work.
In this post, I'll be going over my experience visiting Mies Van Der Rohe's Farnsworth House.
You can look at pictures. You can watch videos. But what always trumps these forms of ingesting information is our actual eyes and ears.
As I've mentioned before, the Farnsworth House has been one of the projects which have continuously found their way, through their incredible influence, into many conversations in the classroom.
For those interested in visiting, I highly recommend going on the Moonlight Tour. Sure, it's $15 more (which includes the photography permit), but it will bring out the beauty of the landscape, especially the trees glimmering from the low-angle sunlight.
Approaching the site
As the tour guide walked us down through the forest, he informed us about how originally the site for the home was about a third of what is now owned by the preservation company (about 20 acres originally if I remember correctly). The walk took a few minutes. We even had to cross a bridge with a creek running underneath! The suspense was perfectly curated.
The First Glance
I was a bit out-of-it. If you've ever that moment when you're staring at something and, either from the lighting or other visual stimuli, it appears to be living completely out of your reality...this was one of the moments, easily.
The white was extremely white, and the glass floated between the steel beams. The panes of glass were bigger in person by far. You never see glass pieces that large in a home.
They clearly have great landscapers because the entire property was perfect. It was hard to imagine this area being flooded by 2-3 feet of water every year.
I don't know about you, but I was a bit worried the inside of this place would smell funky. It's been flooded and, as most houses do, the materials degrade.
But, of course, the transition from outside to inside was silky smooth. The furniture popped against the glass reflection. Shadows from the trees danced along the edge of the river, and, as the sun did set, the original type of lighting designed by Mies truly made us feel warm and comforted. So comfortable, in fact, I was ready for bedtime.
I plan on going again. Oh, absolutely. This time I will go on the morning tour (I wish they had an early morning tour, but 10 am will suffice). And for those living in the Chicago area, you should definitely consider going.
From its minimal construction, to the beautiful site it sits on, to the beauty of the flowing one-room design, the Farnsworth House is one of the pieces of human construction which connects to us in a way far surpassing the physical. It is a work which demonstrates what is possible when architecture is given the opportunity to dive deep into our mental and emotional minds.
Don't get me wrong, at the end of the day this is one of many architectural monuments which emit similar experiences. But its influence in American architecture continues to be profound, and I am fortunate to be a student of architecture studying in an area so close to this piece of history.
While I could go on and explain every corner of this one-room home, I think it's best to leave you with this great animation:
Thanks so much for reading this far! I try to keep my blog posts concise so you get the most amount of knowledge without all the fluff!
You can learn more about the Farnsworth House and my interpretation and connection to it by listening/watching to the Student Architect episode titled "Nature, Humanity, and Architecture part 1". Watch it on Youtube! Or listen to it here!
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