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All green Farnsworth House
All green Farnsworth House

Farnsworth House in Illinois is an uinique experience

Farnsworth House is an ethereal weekend retreat built on the banks of the river Fox near Plano in Illinois, a town approximately 60 miles south-west of Chicago. In 1945, German architect Ludwig Mies van der Roe was appointed by Chicago-based Edith Farnsworth to design a country home where she could get away from the city and enjoy Nature.

Mies conceived of Farnsworth House as an icon of 20th Century Modern architecture and it is universally considered to be the zenith of International Style in America. With Nature surrounding the house providing the privacy, Mies was able to create a continuous glass wall that allowed residents to commune with Nature. The physical elements of the building are barely seen.

As Historian Maritz Vandenburg describes it: “All of the paraphernalia of traditional living — rooms walls, doors, interior trim, loose furniture, pictures on walls, even personal possessions — have been abolished in a puritanical vision of simplified, transcendental existence.” Mies’s International Style movement had a great influence on the architects of the U.S. His famous dictum, “Less is more”, became a motto for modern architects around the world.

The simple one-storey house is located on a secluded site along the river. It is situated far from the road at the south end of the 58-acre site. Since there is no paved driveway or path leading to the house, visitors have to approach on foot, taking in the environs along the way.

Elevated look

Since the house is in the vicinity of the flood plain, it is vulnerable to flooding. Rather than locate the house farther away, Mies decided to raise the floor level by 5 feet 3 inches, elevating the house — one, therefore, gets the impression it is floating above the ground.

The building materials and structure also lend that impression. The house is composed primarily of four materials — steel, which is part of the structure of the house; the stone and Italian travertine; the glass above the curtain rods, and around the house; and the wood, a South American species, around the core of the house.Mies solved the problem of solid walls by doing away with rooms, and the plan has a central crux that contains the fireplace, bathroom, kitchen and mechanical features of the home.

MEERA RAJGOPAL

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