At-home Educational Ideas Inspired by Fallingwater

April 3, 2020

We’re all practicing social distancing and spending a lot of time at home these days, so Fallingwater Curator of Education Ashley Andrykovitch is sharing a few ideas for everyone to still be inspired by Fallingwater, the natural landscape and built environment during our temporary closure.

“If you are looking for a fun, hands-on activity, you can take inspiration from Fallingwater and discover things about your home and neighborhood that you never noticed before,” says Ashley.  The following activities can be done by anyone, at any age. Enjoy!

Fallingwater in summer

Take an Architecture Stroll

You don’t need to be at Fallingwater to appreciate architecture. Take an architecture walk around your neighborhood. What does the architecture look like near your home? Sketch some architecture and special architectural details that you see in your neighborhood.

Think of Concrete Ideas

Fallingwater is one of the first residential structures in America to make use of reinforced concrete. It was a material that was traditionally used for commercial buildings, such as skyscrapers. Wright liked the “plastic” quality of concrete, which means that it could be molded into the shape of his choice, creating the crisp corners of the terraces and the rounded parapet walls. Take a walk around your neighborhood and look for other buildings that appear to be made of reinforced concrete. What shapes are the buildings? Why do you think the architect chose that material for the building?

Design a Dream Vacation Home

Wright’s design for Fallingwater was highly customized for the Kaufmann family. Knowing that they enjoyed spending time outdoors, especially in the Bear Run stream, Wright designed the hatch to give the family constant access to the stream from the comfort of their living room. This is just one of many aspects of the design that made Fallingwater the Kaufmann’s dream vacation house. What would your dream vacation house look like? Where would it be sited? What features would make it unique to you? Sketch your ideas!

Create a Floor Plan

A floor plan is a type of architectural drawing, rendered from birds-eye-view, as if you are a giant looking down at a building from above. Create a floor plan of a room in your home. You can draw free hand on any piece of paper, or try using some of the following tools: Measuring tape, ruler, grid paper, pencil and eraser. Be sure to indicate where your doors, windows and furniture are placed.

Draw Your Home’s Elevation Plan

An elevation drawing is a type of architectural drawing that has a very flat look to it. Create an elevation drawing of your home. An elevation drawing shows one side of a structure and includes as all important details like doors, windows and more. Choose which side of your home you’d like to draw. Go outside, find a comfortable place to sit and observe your home for a moment, then draw one side of your home. You can draw free hand on any piece of paper, or try using some of the following tools: Ruler, grid paper, pencil and eraser.

Imagine a Home in Harmony with Nature

If you’ve visited Fallingwater, what are your favorite examples of the ways Wright’s design for Fallingwater is in harmony with nature? Examples include the hatch that allowed the Kaufmanns to walk from their living room into the stream, and the boulders that extend from the landscape into the house. If you could design a home in harmony with nature, what would you include?

Watch for First Signs of Spring

Hellebores are among the first plants to bloom at Fallingwater, which is located in Southwestern Pennsylvania in the northeastern United States. What are the first plants to bloom in your area? Go outdoors to look for signs of spring near your home. Take photos and notes and make sketches. Find the plants in books or on the internet to learn more.

Find Rock Formations

In 1934 when Frank Lloyd Wright visited Bear Run, where Fallingwater would be built, he took inspiration from the beautiful Pottsville sandstone that is native to the area. The appearance (color, shape and texture) of sandstone or any rock is unique for every landscape. Take a walk and look for rock formations that are naturally occurring in your area. What does the rock look and feel like? Can you identify it?

Stay Active in Nature

Staying active and going outdoors is a great way to relieve stress. What are your favorite ways to get exercise and enjoy nature? Can you invent some outdoor exercises?

Need help thinking through these ideas or have questions? If so, please contact Ashley Andrykovitch, aandrykovitch@paconserve.org for more information.

Don’t forget to share the results of your activities or join the conversation with Fallingwater on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.