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How has Taliesin House became an enlightenment solution to the community in the context of feminism.

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

In this blog, I will be discussing the theories of feminism in the context of ‘enlightenment solution’ to worldwide culture and community through the design of Taliesin East by Frank Lloyd Wright. As the creator of organic architecture, He was well respected to his harmony towards humanity.Wright’s style played a huge role in the feminist movements in the 20th century. He followed the idea of “If men and women have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country then that implies the right of men and women to capitalize their labour”This suggests that his attitude towards men and women are equal in way that unionism of ideas is necessary, if capitalism exists.


specially in the earlier years, when it comes to the structure of the Taliesin East which was completed in 1911, the name meaning ‘Shining-brow’ in Welsh as it was built into the ‘brow’ of the hill. Wright designed it by, making sure to emulate the flatness of the plains surrounding the building and the natural limestone surfaces of Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Wright designed the main Taliesin home and studio as a refuge from a ‘’Romantic Scandal’’ after being ostracized from Chicago society. Where he used to live, after leaving his first wife and starting an affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney. The Taliesin building was also an Architecture school and Wright’s studio where his best-known buildings were created. The version that exists nowadays is different from it was originally built due to the two fires that burned down the house between the years of 1914 and 1925. Re-construction took place twice in a row, and the versions are known as Taliesin, Taliesin II and, the Taliesin III which is known as the current building. However, it was never finished. Up until his death, Wright was always modifyingthe creations under the name of Taliesin. Taliesin III is now owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep the building alive to inspire cultures and communities with its concept design to support feminism.


Design


The Style of the Taliesin house was contemporary solution to enlighten the culture and community of united states of America through the context of feminism. Style of Taliesin later became the birth of European modernism which also influenced the craftsman style. ‘’Wright’s views on women and feminism the dynamics of his relationships were influenced by the strong women figures in his life. His aunts, mother, colleagues, wives, and lovers’’ Frank Lloyd designed the windows in a way that every point of the day, sun could come through the openings to keep the rooms bright and heaven like. He painted the wood shingles to a grey colour on the gabled roof to match the existing branches of the nearby trees. He also excluded guttering to the Taliesin house just so he could capture icicles in icy winter. This was not done by his wants and needs but to apply the woman’s wants and needs to his creations. This created a spatial balance between men and woman by applying both needs to the design to not discriminate and create biased attitude towards feminism. ‘’Ideology of Organic’’ prompted Wright’s thinking to redefine his architecture through the influence of ‘’Natural’’ relationships between men and woman as he believed that architecture should be empowered by both ways to enlighten the dark curse up on Inequality. He also mentioned "The house married the hill" which means that the organic design of the Taliesin blended in with the nature and to construct an organic building he combined his ‘’private life based on respect for woman with combination of the natural forces of sexuality and nature’’. After building the Taliesin for himself and his lover Cheney, members of the house were murdered. Wright met Noel his lover then wife Olgivanna Lloyd and they have influenced Wright to rebuild the Taliesin House for the two females. Years after his death, his architecture became a source of inspiration to feminism with his Prairie style.

Addition to the style, one of the first employees of Wright’s was Marion Mahony Griffin which influenced Wright with her own views to the design of the projects. She was also one of the first licenced architects of all time with her specialities in the Prairie style. Even though, Wright did not give her much remembrance over projects that they have completed; He made it clear that she contributed in his own studio designs, projects to further develop his ideas and supported her rights through the age of inequality and discrimination between men and women as she mentioned ‘’It did not matter whether an architect was a man or a woman, if she could do the job’’ which suggests, it is not about who you really are, it is about what you can do.




Enlightenment


Enlightenment Solution towards feminism was established with the design of Taliesin however, the influence of the building was not only to empower woman through culture and community but change other architect’s views towards an architectural design. Especially, throughout the years of enlightenment where the world was managed by men, the design of Taliesin was seen as a CenterPoint in contemporary architecture as the thought of “Ideology of Organic’’ influenced both men and women. One of the cultural and community growth in the context of gender was empowering women’s views on architecture. This allowed the women to freely express themselves without the masculine influence. Zaha Hadid was example of this enlightenment as she created natural and organic flowing forms; where space and structure created continuity like the flow of the women’s figure by embodying Wright’s poetry of space as “the continual becoming invisible foundation from which all rhythms flow to which they must pass.” She mentioned that ‘’It's still a man's world’’ even though the design of Taliesin has changed a lot of architect's views towards feminism.

On the other hand, Taliesin house design unleashed the idea of ‘’New Woman’’ which suggests that the building was feminized and seen as an evolution to women and their choices. Deborah Silverman’s opinion to this evolution was a controversy to the idea of feminism as she mentioned in her writing about ‘’Fin de Siècle’’ that includes the architect’s responses towards ‘’La Femme Nouvelle’’ which is referred as the ‘’The New Woman’’ she believes that woman seized this opportunity to have control and the power misguided them from creating safely feminine buildings. As she mentions ‘’feminine were transformed into dangerously erotic forces no longer under male control’’ which takes us back to why men were very conservative about women having their input in architecture which is proved by the description of the ‘’Extremely Erotic’’ building designs.

Due to this controversy, many architects disobeyed the idea of women having the rights to have input in architectural designs. Although Taliesin house changed cultural views on the feminism through the eyes of community, it also created critical views against to the empowerment of ‘’women and their design’’. Sexism, discrimination, and bullying became quite common in the later years of the design for people that supported the idea of ‘’Feminism’’ or from the opposite sex. One of the great architects that disbelieved in the power of women was Le Corbusier. He was a French-Swiss architect that is known for his famous designs on modern architecture. However, He objectified women as sexual beings by embracing his ‘masculine’ approach to the built environment and modern architecture. The architect Charlotte Perriand questioned his character through his attitude towards women being involved with architecture as he responded with ‘’We do not embroider cushions here’’


In addition to this, in the book of ‘’Le Corbusier: The Dishonest Architect, by Malcolm Millais’’ he is mentioned as a ‘’Genius Plagiarist’’ as he used other women’s ideas and designs and credited them under his name. Referring to Charlotte Perriand; she played a huge role in his famous designs. The most famous Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanerette building concepts may never have existed without Charlotte Perriand; with that been said she was never credited on the designs as Corbusier exposed his characteristics through his objectification gaze on women in architecture as the ‘’female body was completely excluded in his inspirations’’ in the fantasies of Le Corbusier.


Conclusion


After looking at the‘’Pros and Cons’’ of the enlightenment that was inspired from Taliesin House,I would like to create a conclusion with my opinion towards the controversy that have happened throughout the years of feminism and the different arguments of why it was seen as the way it was seen by both point of views. Enlightenment solution was the actual change through the context of feminism. By empowering women and allowing them to have voice was the change we have made. This power allowed women to prove their skills and talent throughout the sexist, discriminative and men-controlled ages. Not only women proved themselves that they matter, but they also proved the closed minded and sexist characters about who they are and what they can achieve with their architectural designs. This also allowed modern architecture to evolve as the feminism was set free, where women allowed their mind to be open towards impossible designs. Over the years we have seen the evolution of Organic and natural forms in modern architecture which was inspired from the design concept of Taliesin House.



Written by: Elija Halil

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