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Plans © 1993 by William Allin Storrer
The Mathews example is sketched below; the wood-and-steel construction is clad above and below in sheet metal.
W A Storrer photo of Mathews trellis at bedroom corner:
To use stone to build a house, in any capacity, is an act of human will. Any appeal to 'naturalism' is symbolic. For example, the rough stone of Fallingwater, as natural and satisfying as it is, remains crafted by human hands. As the stone is quarried on-site, it appears as a continuation from its land––"out of the ground into the light". But yet that goal or ideal is a symbolic meaning all the same... In the end, Fallingwater has a sensory appearance that we find satisfying. Its context creates the condition for a full sensory satisfaction.That may be reaching to justify building a stone house on the prairie grass, but.... The entire planet is rocky, so stone is as logical a building material as any wherever it is used.
(A more interesting study might be how and why the stucco terraces of Fallingwater are nonetheless so satisfying, unnatural as they are.... Is it the forwardness of these horizontal features, against the backdrop of the stone-work, as if the work of Man is pushing itself outwards from the work of Nature.....?)
For the Richard Smith house... suggesting a 'sense' of granite bedrock emerging from the flat prairie grass is indeed a reach, in my opinion. Because there are no surrounding cues of rustic appearance that would really contextualize this naturalistic work of stone. To the contrary, the town setting pulls all context away from the naturalistic and into the commonplace 'unnatural' setting we associate with suburban neighborhoods... This photo posted by 'outside in' on the second page illustrates that, doesn't it? A symbolic 'naturalistic' work whose only problem is contextual?
I believe that was the crux of Mr. Virr's complaint.
The Richard Smith house overlooks a golf course, but could not be described as being in a rural setting. More accurately, whilst not being categorized as urban or suburban, it could be considered a township site, and as such the choice of random coursed limestone masonry walls is totally inappropriate.
In Wright's case, he was known to favor the use of mineral material found at or near the site, incorporating it into the material palette of the building when possible. What about wood specie; did he likewise try to use the kind of wood growing on or near the site ? Not at all---he repeatedly depended upon a very few species which he favored for their weathering qualities and/or their appearance. Of course he designed with the site topography and the climate in mind, but he seldom if ever paid much heed to neighboring structures in the matter of form or material. As a contextualist, Wright gets a decidedly mixed review.
So---what matter ? Aren't we satisfied with the work as we find it ? Isn't Roderick correct when he opines that "the entire planet is rocky, so stone is as logical a building material as any wherever it is used" ? In an urban or a suburban setting, isn't local building tradition as important to the "fitness" of a new structure as is what sort of mineral might be (often invisibly) present ? I think Laurie overstated the case that a random-coursed stone house was "totally inappropriate" in a "township" setting---granting a superior sensitivity to the subtleties of the subject . . .
The way I'd personally define "context" is in the things that begin immediately where the object ends... Every object has its boundaries, and what shares that edge with it is its "context"... Thus, the local lumber used or where stone was sourced wouldn't count, for me, as context, because their significance as "locally sourced" materials doesn't necessarily register in the immediate experience of the 'artwork'. However, the things that begin immediately where the sculptured building ends––the ground, the sky, all things within view of the house––are its context... In this respect, Wright 'as a contextualist' is single handedly above every other architect I've ever even glanced at.
Of course I realize my definition of context is different than others. "Immediate experience" leaves little room for anything of significance outside of sensory perceptions. All meaning must be found intuitively, and immediately, within the work. "Out of the ground into the light" is an ideal which is created in its symbolism––massive central hearth and concrete floors thinning into periphery glazing and high windows––yet this symbolism is also experienced immediately through the artwork itself (and through the symbols themselves)... "Meaning" therefore stops being cognitive and becomes "felt"..... Good stuff!
Anyway, Mr. Virr's observation of the appropriateness of rough stone in a "township" setting––one I might add without any rustic elements like exposed rockery or forest symbols or even a slope––remains to me a legitimate critique towards Wright, one worth contemplating from a "zoomed out" perspective.
Gestalt theory, and the study of figure-ground relationships, might relate to the area you are exploring ?
Walter Burley Griffin blended his Melson design with the rock walls of the adjacent declivity, but how often does one find such a perfect site? The Smith House is jake in my opinion, no matter how far removed from the nature of the site or its location in a township. Fore!
"It is commonly believed that ordinary perception does not grasp form, instead occupying itself with identifying the object in order to know and utilize it. Yet ordinary perception does not always stop at mere identification, as Gestalt psychology has clearly shown. This school of thought extends the word "form" to the very expression of objects, which is a stage beyond the spatio-temporal organization of the given by the figure which allows us to isolate and identify an object. "The theory of form . . . admits that objects have by themselves, as a result of their own structure and independent of all the previous experience of the subject who perceives them, certain characteristics of strangeness, terror, irritation, calm, grace, and elegance." The aesthetic object has just such a character, a character which we shall be calling "affective." The aesthetic object speaks not only from the richness of the sensuous but through the affective quality which it expresses and which allows us to recognize it without recourse to concepts. Its unity is not only sensuous but affective. This unity is not a new form which has been added to those we have already discerned. It is rather a new aspect of the object, for the affective itself is immanent in the sensuous, as the verb sentir ("to feel," "to sense") indicates."
"Our perception must establish a context appropriate to [the aesthetic object], a zone of space or time, of empty space or silence, which encircles our attention like a nimbus. This context is seen in the silence which precedes a recital or in the way we prepare to read, sheltered from all distraction... The silence which ensues in the concert hall when the conductor's baton is raised or three taps are heard is not merely a silence which the audience creates by keeping quiet. It is a silence which the work carries as its forward messenger and is part of the work in the same way that a frame is part of a painting. It is perceived as an object or, rather, as the commencement of the aesthetic object, just as the silence of the forest or the night is also perceived. And the same is true of the solitude, stillness, and comfort we seek in order to read.... [Such an] environment is not so much the background against which the object stands out as it is the radiance of the object itself, the aura of its presence."
The book is available as a free PDF download, if anyone's interested... Dense reading, but a wonderful thesis:
https://monoskop.org/images/9/94/Dufren ... 3_1973.pdf