When synthetics were king and plastic was a new “miracle” material, Frank Lloyd Wright bucked the trend and wrote The Natural House. Published in 1954, the book was full of ideas the architect had been practicing for decades—starting, in many ways, with the 1934 Willey House. Wright laid out his theory of “organic architecture,” where “the nature of material and method and purpose are all in unison.” He urged architects to respect materials for their intrinsic nature and design accordingly.
Organic architecture, Wright posited, “is an architecture upon which true American society will eventually be based if we survive at all...If we succeed, we will have done a great service to our moral nature—the psyche—of our democratic society. Integrity would become more natural…living within a house wherein everything is genuine and harmonious, a new sense of freedom gives one a new sense of life.”
The Usonian house—for which the Willey House became a sort of prototype—offered an equally utopian vision: affordable shelter that embodied these aims. “Integral to its site; integral to its environment; integral to the life of the inhabitants...Into this new integrity, once there, those who live in it will take root and grow,” he wrote.