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Mies Van der Rohe's Farnsworth House: Transparency and the Problem of Privacy.

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Queen Zackereius 2011502338 ARCH 1024 Research Paper Keyword: Transparency MIES VAN DER ROHE?S FARNSWORTH HOUSE: TRANSPARENCY AND THE PROBLEM OF PRIVACY Abstract Privacy, defined as: ?the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people,? is a basic need of every human being to feel safe and secure, whereby a house, apart from a structure to provide shelter, is also a personal space where adequate privacy is crucial for comfortable dwelling. Glass on the other hand, is a popular transparent material in architecture, that not only creates views of the exterior from the interior of the house, but also exposes the interior of the house and this therefore affects privacy. Thus, ?one who lives in a glass house? is often used as a metaphor to describe one who exposes too much of his private life to an extreme extent. This research paper will analyse Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to determine whether the use of glass is a threat to privacy in the house. The house will be analysed in three different scales: the house and its relationship with the site, the glass house itself as a stand-alone structure, and the transparency within the house. ...read more.


As a result, the occupants of the house will feel that they are indirectly being spied on. Living Behind Glass Walls Dr. Farnsworth once commented that: ?the house is transparent like an X ray.? [5] The house indeed is a totally glassed-in rectangular box, consisting roof slab and floor slab.[6] Materials evoke physical and psychological responses, and in this case the use of glass for walls suggests that the objects within are on display. [7] As we are accustomed to the use of glass as a cover to protect and present objects, such as exhibition pavilions, food counters, and jewelry shelves, it is understandable for one to feel that he or she is ?being looked at? when he or she is behind glass, although there might be nobody around the area. Thus, living in a glass house is like living under never-ending surveillance. It is almost like having a live-camera in the house, whereby someone else will be watching, or even worse, living not like an owner of a house, but like an object of observation. Regardless of its surrounding factors, the use of glass itself for walls is sufficient to induce the fear of being watched at. ...read more.


are shared among occupants of the house, or things that the host intends to reveal to the guests, but there should also be private spaces for each individual, where they can feel comfortable with themselves, without having to hide from anything or anyone. Based on the analysis of transparency in Farnsworth House from different perspectives, it is obvious that its transparency does severely affect privacy in the house. It is undeniable that the Farnsworth House is a mind-stimulating piece of intelligence and beauty, which plays a significant role in the history of modern architecture, and heavily inspired many architects over the years. Perhaps it is more suitable to be presented as a masterpiece by a genius, rather than an ordinary accommodation, as his biographer puts it:? Certainly the house is more nearly a temple than a dwelling, and it rewards aesthetic contemplation before it fulfills domestic necessity.?[10] I will not say that this is the case for all transparent glass houses, as the architect? may have a different way of dealing with the material, but we should rethink the purpose of a house, to what extent should it be ?transparent? and ?open?, and whether the use of glass in the house is appropriate when designing one. ...read more.

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