Bringing Fallingwater to Isla Pey

A modified Fallingwater at Isla Pey

As friends know, I have something of an obsession with Fallingwater, the rural south-western Pennsylvania house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. and his family. For several years I worked on a reproduction here in Second Life. I’m not the first to do so – although while most tend to only focus on the “main” house, I opted to try for the whole thing: house, guest house, servant’s quarters and garages. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of build that requires a region in size to properly lay out, so since 2015, when it last appeared as the setting for an art display, it has tended to sit in its rezzing system in my inventory.

However, I recently suggested to Caitlyn that given the lie of our island home, it might be interesting to build a house that is built against one of the cliffs, rather than on top of it. Problem was: what style of house? The Internet offered plenty of images that might serve as inspiration, but in the end I came back to Fallingwater. There was no way the entire house would fit on our island, but I wondered if the main house could be made to fit – if not as a “cliff house”, then at least as a house built out over the water.

I’ve taken a few liberties in removing the upper floor, the scullery and shortening both terrace wings, but overall, the house retains its distinctive shape

Turns out, it could – with a little modification.

Fallingwater is a big house – far too big for just two of us, and a little bigger than makes for a comfortable fit with the island. To make it more manageable, I removed the upper floor bedrooms, reducing the overall height, and shortened the two wing terraces,  dropping the height of one just a little. The back of the house needed a little re-working – a new “front door” on the ground level, the removal of the bridge spanning the driveway in the real house, and slight alterations to allow the house form one side of the island’s pond.

The Great Room is a big space to fill.. and yet, once you get started, it isn’t…

What particularly got me to use Fallingwater  – as well as a nagging desire to see the house in some form again – was an idea from Caitlyn. My thinking was to have the house at the south end of the island, overlooking the boating lanes. Caitlyn suggested using the north end of the island instead, and on trying it, I saw that the buttresses supporting the house as it stands out over Bear River actually makes a convenient covered mooring area for our motorboats and ‘plane, with room for our faithful Loonetta to one side.

A little tweaking of the grounds and garden was required to fit everything, but nothing too excessive. I admit to being rather pleased with the way the house revels itself when walking up from the southern end of the island; this wasn’t intentional, the lay of the path and the trees already there just leant themselves to a gradual reveal.

Walking up the track from the south end of the garden as the house gradually reveals itself.

It’s not the “house backing into the cliffs” I’d originally thought about, but it is nice to have my Fallingwater back in-world, even modified as it is.

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Impressions: a personal view of Second Life

Impressions; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrImpressions, LEA 6 – (Flickr) – click any image for full size

When Secret Rage approached me in mid-July and asked me to consider producing a full region installation in which to display my images from around Second Life, my first reaction was to refuse. Not out of stuffiness or false modesty, but because I genuinely don’t regard myself as an SL photographer, and am far from convinced the images I produce for blogging purposes are of interest as an exhibit.

However, Secret is a very persistent (and persuasive!) person; so I’m now pleased – and more than a little nervous – to say that my first ever art-focused installation in Second Life is now open, and I’m calling it Impressions. It can be found at LEA 6.

Impressions; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrImpressions, LEA 6 – (Flickr)

So what is this all about? Well, three things, all summed up in the word “Impressions”.

  • The first is a display of my more recent images and videos of places I’ve visited around Second Life – the impressions they’ve given me, if you will.
  • The second is the 2D and (particularly) 3D work of a talented Italian student, CioTToLiNa Xue – work that made quiet an impression on me when I happened across it.
  • The third is the setting itself, an interpretation of and iconic American house of the 20th century, which has long made an impression upon me.

Impressions; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrImpressions, LEA 6 August 2015 (Flickr)

I’m particularly pleased about the second of these bullet points. CioTToLiNa is an extremely modest woman who only started teaching herself 2D and 3D design six months ago, and I think what she is already producing speaks volumes about her developing talent. I came across her sculptures by chance whilst visiting Art on Roofs in July, and was really delighted when she agreed to display her work as a part of Impressions: they add a further depth to the house, the original of which features a range of sculptures and art pieces scattered around the buildings.

The house is a personal interpretation of a place I have yet to visit in the physical world, but have grown to love. I have attempted to be reasonably accurate in my interpretation ot the house and river over which it sits, but the rest of the region is purely made from my imagination, and offers places to sit in the sun or under moon, listing to the music, have a picnic, laze in a hammock, and so on.

Information givers at the landing point and in the great room of the house provide information on the art and images on display. So, I hope you’ll visit and enjoy! Impressions will be open through until the end of September – you’ll probably find me pottering around tweaking things here and there!

Impressions; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrImpressions, LEA 6 August 2015 (Flickr)

There is no preferred windlight for the region – the sounds and lighting are designed to change with the SL day. However, if you wish to use a windlight yourself, I recommend the following for daytime lighting:

  • [NB]-MistyDay-5pm – set the Sun to around 11:00am-3:00 pm.
  • [TOR] MIDDAY – Baskaholic.

In closing, I would like to extend sincere and warm thanks to the following people, without their support, this installation would never have seen the light of day: Secret Rage, CioTToLiNa Xue, Jodi Serenity, Whirly Fizzle, Frankx LeFarve, and John.

With a very special and deep thank you to Cube Republic, whose generosity and support has been truly inspiring.

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Fallingwater at Seanchai

Fallingwater at night, Seanchai Library, Kitely
Fallingwater at night, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Back in mid-June, I mentioned that Fallingwater (Kitely) was relocating to the Seanchai Library core world there, the result of conversations between Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring and myself. In that report, I covered the physical move itself, relocating the house from a single region to the Seanchai 2×2 core megaregion.

Since then, and as time has allowed, I’ve been gradually re-working the place. Truth be told, I’d never really got it to a “completed” state in two years of having it on a region of its own, and the build really needed some TLC to get materials, etc., properly blended (I’d only just started messing around with them when I stopped working on the place in 2013). There was also much I was less than pleased with in the landscaping – such as the driveway up to the garages and Guest House, the river, and the falls, which I’ve always wanted to re-work.

A part of the revised drive with retaining walls and one of the smaller outdoor venue spots (right). Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely
A part of the revised drive with retaining walls and one of the smaller outdoor venue spots (right). Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

As the house is now part of a themed estate (albeit one where each region effectively has a theme of its own), the land around the house needed a degree of blending so that it would fit the lay of the rest of the estate, and this gave me the excuse I needed to shovel through everything that I’d never really made the time to sort-out.

First and foremost. the falls received a complete face-lift. I’ve always been unhappy with how they looked throughout each iteration of the build, either in SL or Kitely; they never seemed to quite capture the spirit of the original. I’m a lot happier with the re-working. They’re still not “Fallingwater’s” falls – the rocks there are far more angular, but I think I’ve captured more of their “feel” at last.

The revised falls under the Great Room of the house. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely
The revised falls under the Great Room of the house. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Reworking the land meant I could get rid of the two roads leading up the house and replace them with gravel paths with brick shoulders. One of these. I decided, should lead to a stone jetty offering plenty of mooring pace for boats (water is a major feature in the estate), and the other I reworked as the main path connecting the house to the rest of the estate, reach via a bridge spanning the mouth of the river, and which I nabbed from Shandon and reworked a little, adding some wood texturing.

As the house is to be a venue for storytelling, providing space for people to gather has been an important consideration. So to help with this, I decided to thin out the trees a little and provide a couple of open-air spaces which might be used for smaller gatherings. One sits in the curve of the completely re-work driveway (I hated the original in the build, and while I’ve not found any sign of the walls I’ve installed along the drive in the drawings I have of the real Fallingwater, I think they fit the place rather well. beyond the drive, and outside of the walled parking area is another area cleared of trees and which faces out over open ocean to the north, as another space for informal gatherings.

The new "north terrace house" with steps leadig down to the jetty and the Guest House visible in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely
The new “north terrace house” with steps leading down to the jetty and the Guest House visible in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Cale also requested that I provide a space which could be used for meetings, workshops, social events and suchlike, again in keeping with the overall design of the house. This left me stumped for a while, but in the end I came up with a combination of a large cantilevered terrace extending out over the ocean on the northeast side of the island, and a building styled after the Guest House and offering two connected rooms. hopefully these will together provide flexible space for hosting indoor and outdoor events. A set of steps leads down to another set of piers below, and a path arcs around the headland and down to a small cove.

This all sits well below the lie of the rest of the land on the north side of the island, and so hopefully also offers a feeling of isolation from the rest of the build – although a path does link it to the pool patio by the Guest House, the patio also having been extended to provide a further venue for small gatherings.

The jetties on the south side of the island and the house through the trees in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely
The jetties on the south side of the island and the house through the trees in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

I’ve add new lighting to much of the outdoors areas – lamps which come on at dusk and turn off again at dawn – which hopefully add some more ambience to the place. There are still some nips and tucks to be taken care of, but overall, I think the major work is done – subject, of course, to Cale and Shandon being in agreement.

I doubt this is the end of my infatuation with Fallingwater; I rather suspect that were the opportunity to arise, I’d happily start fiddling with the SL version once more. However, where Kitely is concerned – given that I have so little time I can spend there – I’m really happy that Fallingwater has a new home and will be put to good use.

You can visit Seanchai Library in Kitely via the Seanchai Library Kitely web page or via a hypergrid teleport from any hypergrid enabled OpenSim grid via:  hop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/144/129/29 (main arrival point, Fallingwater is to the northeast).

I "borrowed" a copy of one of the bridges connecting the various locations in the estate to provide a physical and thematic link between Fallingwater and the rest of the estate. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely.
I “borrowed” a copy of one of the bridges connecting the various locations in the estate to provide a physical and thematic link between Fallingwater and the rest of the estate. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely.

Fallingwater joins Seanchai Library

Fallingwater as it appeared as a standalone region on Kitely
Fallingwater as it appeared as a standalone region on Kitely (click for full size)

Regular readers here will be only too aware of my obsession with Frank Lloyd Wright’s building designs, and in particular that of Fallingwater, which I’ve used as a model for no fewer than three builds over the years: two in Second Life (both now gone, but one safely packed away) and one in Kitely, where it has had a full region to itself for the last two years.

As I’m rarely in Kitely nowadays, the model there hasn’t really seen that much use. So, to rectify this, and as a result of conversations between myself and Caledonia Skytower and Shandon Loring at Seanchai Library, Fallingwater (Kitely) has been relocated to the Seanchai core world, where it will be used as an additional set of venues for Seanchai’s storytelling in voice.

The Great Room at Fallingwater Kitely will soon be a venue for stories in voice!
The Great Room at Fallingwater Kitely will soon be a venue for stories in voice!

The idea of relocating an entire region – buildings, furnishings, plants, tree, flowers and the rest on your own, and without having to pay for it to be done for you, is something liable to fill SL users with a feeling of foreboding. Fortunately, OpenSim users can make use of the OpenSim ARchive (OAR) capability to export and entire region / simulator’s contents to a local hard drive, subject to any permission protections used on their OpenSim grid.

A slight complication with Kitely is that it is not possible to target a single region within a group of regions  – “world” as Kitely call them – without also overwriting the others. As our aim was to make Fallingwater a part of the 4-region core Seanchai “world”, simply exporting it to OAR and then importing it into the Seanchai world would leave the other three regions replaced by default flat terrain.

There is a way around this, but it requires a small amount of fiddling, and the use of something like New World Studio (NWS) or  Sim-on-a-Stick (there are also user-offered services for those wishing to do something similar and who don’t have access to either). Using NWS (which ‘ve previously reviewed)  made the work of combining Fallingwater with Seanchai a simple 6-step process.

Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai's core 2x2 world on Kitely 1: my 2x2 region on my self-hosted New World Studio
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai’s core 2×2 world on Kitely 1: my 2×2 region on my self-hosted New World Studio
  • First, I created a 4-region (2×2) set-up with New World Studio.
  • Second, using the OAR format, I exported Fallingwater from Kitely and Shandon exported the Seanchai 4-region world, which he passed to me as an OAR file
  • Third, I uploaded the Seanchai world to my 2×2 New World Studio set-up
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai's core 2x2 world on Kitely 2: importing Seanchai's core 2x2 world
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai’s core 2×2 world on Kitely 2: importing Seanchai’s core 2×2 world in NWS
  • Fourth, I selected the region Fallingwater was to overwritten and imported Fallingwater
  • Fifth, I exported the updated 2×2 set-up to an OAR file and passed it back to Shandon
  • Finally, Shandon uploaded the revised OAR into Kitely.
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai's core 2x2 world on Kitely 3: replacing one of the Seanchai regions with Fallingwater
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai’s core 2×2 world on Kitely 3: replacing one of the Seanchai regions with Fallingwater

The entire process of creating the New World Studio environment, exporting the OARs, uploading and merging them and then exporting the updated world literally took around 5 minutes. Granted, Shandon had some additional work to sort-out some items in the Seanchai world which were non-exportable due to permissions, but overall, the longest time in the process was sharing the OAR files via Google docs!

So Fallingwater has a new home on Kitely. However, the work isn’t finished. As well as the house, the plan now is to incorporate additional venues for stories and to blend the Fallingwater region more smoothly in with the existing Seanchai regions. I’ll post images of this as the work progresses!

The obsession returns…

In 2012, the first part of my SL year was spent re-working my take on Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous “Fallingwater“, which eventually wound-up in a quarter-sim in-world for a few weeks.

That build is now boxed for a rainy day, but as I indicated later in the year, I’ve reproduced Fallingwater in Kitely, where it has a full region of its own, allowing me to develop a landscape more in keeping with that of the original. Since then, I’ve been tinkering around with it, adding a region windlight and generally tightening things up. There are still some parts I want to rework, once I have better source material by way of photos (most notably Bear River and the falls), but for now the house is just about done.

Fallingwater on Kitely
Fallingwater on Kitely

With the Second Life build, I produced a modest video; however the result wasn’t overly brilliant – largely because I didn’t really appreciate what I was doing in terms of the technical side of producing the video. Recently, I’ve had some good advice and help from Fuzonacid via YouTube, prompting me to have a further go, this time focusing on the Kitely build.

As it is the start of a new year, I could hardly let it pass without reference to my obsession :), so I hope you enjoy the video (and the Flickr slideshow has also been updated!).

Of mayflies and waterfalls

Today, and on a whim, I decided to drop back into Kitely and my home there – Fallingwater. It’s been a while since I’ve been back, as I’ve been busy in SL and elsewhere, and I didn’t really want to revisit until I’d got a couple of scripting issues sorted (still haven’t) and I’d decided on a suitable windlight preset (I have).

The Guest House

The windlight preset I’ve gone for – at least until I can get scripting issues sorted – is Bryn Oh’s “Mayfly”. I’ve opted for it partly because I love the sunset it provides, but mainly because I believe the dusk half-light it provides works well with the lighting I’ve installed in the house, which isn’t really suited to full daylight (again, something I hope to change in the future). As I want to be able to show-off the house, simply setting the region environment to night doesn’t work either, as people will likely flick over to daytime in their viewer. So my hope is that Mayfly will provide the best for everyone. I do tend to tink it does bring the place to life….but then I would, wouldn’t I? 🙂

Fallingwater

I also finally got around to putting in the footpath and steps from the drive to the river bank facing the house. This isn’t 100% to my satisfaction, and I’m liable to be returning to it and fiddling with things on-and-off, but it’s a start, and in slipping it in, I’ve gained a fair idea as to what I actually want to do when I have sufficient time to spare.

The Great Room and kitchen beyond

There are a few more things I want to do interior-wise as well. A couple of the rooms in the main house are a tad spartan, and the terraces could probably do with a little furnishing. Certainly, a few more pictures around the place would give more of a feeling of homeliness.

Foggy morning

I don’t know what the state-of-play is vehicle-wise in Kitely. I’m not actually after one for driving, but I can’t help feeling having a big old American 1930s Packard parked out under the rear car port would also add to the place as well.

Ilan has been asking my what I’d do if I had one of the new Kitely advanced megaregions. I think that if I did, it would likely become the home to not one, but four of my interpretations of FLW’s houses – I’ve always wanted to try my hand at the Robie House, and I have a couple of other candidates in mind as well. Although I think that were I ever to tackle anything so ambitious, they’d have to be 100% accurate reproductions, just for the heck of it :).

Fallingwater

Ah, well. Such is the stuff of dreams. In the meantime, if you’d like to visit the place yourself, please do. I did notice a couple more issues I need to fix in the place. You can reach it via my Kitely world page

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