One of the most memorable parts of visiting the Hollyhock House was the feeling of nature that was a part of the interior space. I doubt that I have ever walked in an interior space which felt as open and as part of nature as the Hollyhock House. One of the interesting aspects of the theory behind the house’s architecture, as explained by Frank Lloyd Wright, was the idea that the house should develop “a regionally appropriate style of architecture for Southern California” (House) and this alone confirms that the design of the architecture was intended to be in harmony with the natural landscape.
That feeling of harmony is evident to visitors of the house to this very day and the harmony of atmosphere and design are more aptly thought of like music than mathematical engineering. It is important to remember that Wright called the architecture of the house “California Romanza, using a musical term meaning “freedom to make one’s own form” (House). Entering the deepest and most dimply lit spaces in the house seemed to convey a feeling of quiet solitude which is almost unimaginable in the outlying area of Southern California, an over-populated space afflicted with urban sprawl.
The interior of the Hollyhock House gives — first — and impression of wide-open space, and then, secondly, a feeling of protective enclosure. The accomplishment of these dual, and seemingly contradictory, feelings seemed to partake of something deeply feminine and maternal, something womb-like and expansive, like nature itself. In order to more fully appreciate the house itself, it is necessary to experience and appreciate the gardens which are an intimate part of the house. The “theme” of the house and gardens is to unify the architectural structure more closely to nature.
It is appropriate to think of the house, itself, as a flower, which has grown in the same Californian soil as the flowers of the garden. Given the obvious harmony with nature that is sought by Wright’s design for the house, the only negative emotion that I associated with the tour was one which had to do with the fact that I knew, instinctively, that the overall impact of the design of the ouse could not be experienced fully or even convincingly by a single visit or even multiple visits. ecause the house was set in design so closely aligned with nature and the natural rhythms of the organic world, it would be necessary to actually live in the house, perhaps for many years, to fully appreciate the aesthetic impact of the design which Wright offered for the Hollyhock House. Along these lines, while it possible to in some way, gain an appreciation, also, for the views which are offered from the Hollyhock House, it is impossible to fully embrace them without actually living in the house.
So if the house’s “series of rooftop terraces” (House) which ” further extend the living space and provide magnificent views of the Los Angeles basin and the Hollywood Hills” provide a dimension of the house’s overall aesthetic plan which is not obtainable by average observers, these same views allow the house to enter into a unique and intimate relationship with its inhabitants and also with the surrounding landscape.
This relationship between the home’s “owner(s)” and the house acts as a method by which the hoe’s dweller (s) become more closely aligned to nature by becoming more intimately acquainted with their own living-space. The single most important “lesson” I took away from the tour of the house was the rather depressing lesson of contemplating how the rest of us live by comparison, in homes and in offices or work-places that are made, not to reconnect us to nature, but to drive us further from nature, from ourselves, and into a alienating and often brutal landscape of urban sprawl, poverty, and decay.