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No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other. — Frank Lloyd Wright

This might have been FLW’s theory for the Ennis-Brown house. Considering how it was plagued by construction problems and cost overruns, the project was not sited appropriately. It has built-in bad feng shui.

Barnsdall Park sits atop the hill, therefore built-in bad feng shui.

The Freeman House has a look that reminds one of a gingerbread house that is also a military bunker — not good feng shui.

Wright was an elitist, and considered most people unworthy of his designs. Feng shui, in contrast, was used in villages (Banpo, 4000 BCE) and every Chinese capital for millennia. Therefore quite a lot of people benefitted from its use.

Wright took risks, honoring vision rather than physics. The owners of his projects were left to deal with the construction costs (typically double what was quoted) plus immediate repair needs. Wikipedia notes that

Even before its completion the Ennis House was marked by structural instability, concrete blocks had cracked and lower sections of the walls buckled under tension. The use of decomposed granite from the site to color the textile blocks introduced natural impurities to the concrete mix and combined with air pollution caused premature decay.

Feng shui considers sustainability. There are 180-plus years considered in the life cycle of a house. Old Chinese houses can be several centuries old. Same with houses elsewhere in the world. A fifty-year-old house in the US is an object of curiosity and pity.

People who extoll the feng shui virtues of a FLW house probably haven’t had the exquisite pain of maneuvering through one, and haven’t seen photographs showing the low ceilings. Wright liked low ceilings. He did not like bathrooms, leading to architectural jokes about the waterfall at Fallingwater being the real bathroom. In that case he would fail the New Age rules for leaking water, drains, toilet seats, and who knows what else.

It is the stairs that give pause at Fallingwater, for they are scary and a McFengshui no-no as executed. And people who fret over low beams would not be happy in the living room.

Hollyhock House is as welcoming as a Mayan tomb, and the entrance even breaks McFengshui rules.

This hallway runs northeast to southwest, and seemingly the length of the Broad Margin in Greenville, South Carolina. It would need a lot of crystals and wind chimes to fix.

My analysis of Aline Barnsdall’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, found in the architectural sections of About.com. Visit the official website for more revealing photos.

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