Fallingwater – A house over the waterfall by Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater – A house over the waterfall by Frank Lloyd Wright

We all know it as a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, an almost perfect integration between nature and man’s work.
The house was built between 1936 and 1939, for Mr Kaufmann, a wealthy and successful businessman from Pennsylvania. The owners lived there up to 1963 and then they donated the building to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, that opened it to the public as a museum.
The main feature of this house is the waterfall: Bear Run (a small stream) runs under the house built using only local materials, so it can be considered 0 KM work ahead of its time.
The huge balconies above the stream were made by reinforced concrete, and they were so large that the builder refused to remove the formwork and props fearing a collapse. Wright, to convince him, stayed under the balconies during the disarmament. Luckily, they didn’t collapsed..
And it was a miracle..
During those years there were no knowledges about reinforced concrete, but now a days we know, in fact, that there were made some serious errors. The building wasn’t provided with a slight upward incline in the formwork for the cantilever to compensate for the settling and deflection of the cantilever. Once the concrete formwork was removed, the cantilever developed a noticeable sag. (the balcony decreased 18 cm) and they didn’t know the behavior of reinforced concrete would have over time (fluage). Concrete was wrongly considered a solid material (actually, it’s a viscous material and, as such, it suffers deformations).
Even mold had proven a problem and the owner of the house himself nicknamed it “a seven-bucket building” for its leaks.
Today the house has been restored and reinforced in a workmanlike manner (they even kept the 18 cm deflection of the large balcony as a sign of the story), the seven buckets were thrown away and people can visit the museum even during rainy days.

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