In a bit of cross-Atlantic shade-throwing for the ages, an English planning committee has unequivocally rejected one man's attempt to bring a Frank Lloyd Wright design to the rolling green hills of the Somerset countryside. The plan was the brainchild of local parish councillor Hugh Pratt, who toured many of Wright's houses when working as an engineer in the United States, and got the rare permission of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to have an unused 1947 plan for a Santa Barbara home implemented with minor changes on a piece of land he had recently bought. Speaking to the Bristol Post, one councillor summed up the commission's rejection quite nicely, professing that he failed to see "why we should allow this odd American-designed house in our countryside," and erroneously asserting that "Outside of the USA and Japan there is not one Frank Lloyd-Wright designed house. He can't be that influential if the rest of the world doesn't want them."
Pratt had even gone so far as getting the site approved by one of the Wright committee's official architects, the late Stephen Nemtin. Before he passed away in August, the oldest surviving member of Wright's original fellowship worked with Bath-based architect Stephen Brooks to modify the plan for the site, as well as update the materials to conform to contemporary building regulations. Low-slung, extending around a central tower, and clad in stone, the design was characteristic of Wright's later work, and Pratt planned to keep it open for public visits.
It would have undoubtedly been easier for Pratt to get approval for the plan if the land weren't formerly part of historic Tyntesfield Estate, a piece sold off in 2002 when the National Trust acquired the Victorian manor. But although local council members had some harsh words to say about Wright, arguably, the planning committee arrived at a conclusion that respected his organic design ethos. As Oliver Wrainwright pointed out in The Guardian, Wright stated in his 1908 manifesto In the Cause of Architecture that "A building should appear to grow easily from its site, and be shaped to harmonise with its surroundings if nature is manifest there." Which hasn't stopped posthumous Wright buildings from popping up in recent years, but it might give fans pause before adapting his work to far-flung locales.
· Work of art, or an American oddity? [Bristol Post]
· Frank Lloyd Wright's final house will be built in an unlikely setting – Somerset [The Guardian]