“Embrace and release,” also known as “compress and release,” is an architectural concept developed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This concept was used in the entranceways of several of his buildings, including those in Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. Wright designed these entrances as narrow hallways with extremely low ceilings, often no more than six feet high. This confining space, termed the “embrace” or “compress,” made the visitor uncomfortable and encouraged them to move from the entrance into the larger main room, hence the “release.”

Wright was a stickler for good manners and often used elements such as "embrace and release" to promote this trait in visitors. The claustrophobic hallways encouraged a flow of traffic into the main room, thereby preventing people from obstructing the entrance. A similar concept of encouraging good behavior through architecture can be seen in the group dining room of Taliesin West. This room had ceilings that were also uncomfortably low, which encouraged diners to sit at the tables instead of standing.


DylanDog adds:"Some people call it "compression and release", and a guy named Grant Hildebrand wrote a book called _The Wright Space. Pattern and Meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses_ (1991) which treats this sort of thing in some detail."

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