If one is invited back of the main buildings at Taliesin West in Scottsdale Arizona, you will find yourself walking a road or trails through the dessert landscape as it has existed for thousands of years. The entire Taliesin compound sits on 600 acres. Out here one will find the homes of long time members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship such as David Dodge. But most interesting to me were the sites built by students. Take a look.
As part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the architectural school takes in a number of students annually where the motto has been “Learning by doing.”
Part of this philosophy is carried out by having students build their own sleeping quarters in the dessert. Some of the quarters have been passed on from students in the past and then remodeled. Students shower and eat in the main complex.
The great thing about this endeavor is that aspiring architects find out first hand how good their ideas really are. If they don’t work well or are not comfortable, they can make the necessary changes. This process, early in life, is very rewarding. There is a combination of working with one’s mind and hands to create and get feedback. After all what good is a design for living if it looks good on paper, but doesn’t actually work. And what better experience than to find out first hand how this process works.
This idea may have had its’ roots in Frank Lloyd Wright’s own background starting with his exposure to the Frobel Gifts. These were educational materials developed by Friedrich Frobel , the founder of kindergarten, which required the children to work with their hands to create. The gifts have been referred to as perhaps the worlds most intricately conceived playthings, deceptively simple in appearance but representing a sophisticated approach to child development. Frank Lloyd Wright , Buckminster Fuller and many other notable architects and artists were educated with the Frobel Gifts. As I walked through the area I found a full range of small, and in many cases, quite elaborate creations.
Today more than ever knowing how to build, repair, and in general make things, not only instills confidence but may in itself be useful in the rapidly changing world we are experiencing. What are your thoughts on this?