The Farnsworth House was designed and constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1945-51. It is a one-room weekend retreat located in what was once a rural setting, now the city of Plano, about 89 kilometres southwest of Chicago, Illinois. The House is considered to be a National Historic Landmark in the US.
I first was introduced to the Farnsworth House whilst taking an architectural survey course at university. Yes, I dabbled with the idea of becoming one. I can still remember our lecturer waxing poetic about its “essentialism”. It was a concept I found instantly appealing, but awfully challenging to put into practice.
It was purely coincidental that Fanatik just released this stunning version of the Farnsworth House at the same time that I was looking for a change. At only 25 land impact, the minute I saw this House, I knew I’d love decorating it and living here.
Raised on stilts to sit comfortably above the flood waters of the Fox River, Mies chose a basic steel and glass construction to build what many consider to be an iconic masterpiece of 20th Century residential architecture. My Farnsworth hovers over the water of the sim hosting the Basilique which is great for the daily commute!
The house was original commissioned by a prominent nephrologist named Dr. Edith Farnsworth, as a place where she could engage in her hobbies: playing the violin, translating poetry, and enjoying nature. I think that’s just perfect, because I feel that this is just the place to engage in what I like to do in world when I’m alone, and sometimes with friends.
Devoid of privacy (although the curtains do close), and no doubt terribly costly to heat and keep cool, the Farnsworth House is not a structure that lives up to the common societal ideals of inhabitable architecture. In Mies’ words “the essentials for living are floor and roof. Everything else is proportion and nature. Whether the house pleases or not is inconsequential.” Mies wasn’t interested in winning popularity contests and he was definitely a “no-frills” kind of guy.
While surely not to everyone’s tastes, this house pleases me immensely. I have aimed to remain faithful to the original decor now viewable at the House in Plano, with several twists and personal touches, and dare I say it… improvements.
The house was designed for its inhabitants to experience rural silence, and to simply observe the changes of nature that present themselves by the passing of the seasons and days. Mies stated: “If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature—it becomes part of a larger whole.”
The house itself has no internal rooms. Instead, spaces are made by two wooden blocks in the centre of the house, creating a natural flow around, inside, and between the spaces that are multifunctional. In the original house, the larger block contains a washroom, closed shelving in the living room space and kitchen cabinetry on the opposite side; the smaller block is a wardrobe, which has been removed from the original installation several years ago and put in an architectural museum.
I aimed to decorate the House entirely with mesh fittings and furnishings, and managed to do so with only a few exceptions. Not only is it remarkably low land impact, it’s so easily modifiable, and also great to look at. Amazingly, the house and its contents have a land impact of less than 270 which would easily leave one ample room to landscape on a standard 1/16th parcel.
This is not the first house I’ve decorated in Second Life, but it is without my favourite result to date. I’ve read that we create the spaces that show our states of mind. A messy office betrays a messy head; a neat and tidy bedroom reflects a person that places order and clarity as a priority.
For me, this house is a reflection of where I want my mind to be: clear, uncluttered, fluid, ordered and functional.