Contemporary renovations and beautiful, modern residential architecture

Contemporary renovations and beautiful, modern residential architecture

Wright's Malcolm Willey House

Wright's Malcolm Willey House of 1934 was an attempt to create compelling, low-cost Architecture in the throes of the Great Depresssion. The house is a bridge between his earlier Prairie style work and his later Usonian houses.

What's a Usonian house? Wright used the word Usonia to describe his Jeffersonian vision of a decentralized United States. (James Duff law penned the term in 1903 to better distinguish the country between Canada and Mexico.) Wright eliminates elements like gutters and standard footing depths in an attempt to cut costs and make the home available to a wider audience. Wright borrowed a technique of  from Wisconsin farmers where he poured the slab on a bed of gravel in order to keeping the ground under the foundation dry and less prone to frost heaving. This saves on excavation and waste and is a method which should be considered in some form today as we reduce the amount of construction debris trucked to landfills.

What make this home appealing? Wright was expert at taking a motif, one the five types of details, and then transforms it from a small ornamental detail into a compelling building plan and engaging spatial experience. Wright's other contribution to 20th century architecture was making the enclosure and the structure one. The trellis has a V profile and is made from cypress. The V profile gives it a structural integrity and a visual elegance and clarity. It is also a profile that Wright employed in his gutters and eaves.

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Approach is private much like the traditional way a house fronts the street in Japan

Approach is private much like the traditional way a house fronts the street in Japan

Wright uses bands to express the volume he creates and draw your eye.

Wright uses bands to express the volume he creates and draw your eye.

Furniture and Architecture are one. Mies, perhaps his greatest heir, approached them as separate disciplines. Note the clerestory window that lights the ceiling.

Furniture and Architecture are one. Mies, perhaps his greatest heir, approached them as separate disciplines. Note the clerestory window that lights the ceiling.

Wright rotates the grid for the landscaping.

Wright rotates the grid for the landscaping.

View of the trellis from the interior of the house. Wright creates an inside/outside volume with the cypress beams.

View of the trellis from the interior of the house. Wright creates an inside/outside volume with the cypress beams.