maandag 3 juni 2013

Czech Republic, Tugendhat Villa in Brno

The Tugendhat Villa in Brno, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of the international style in the modern movement in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production.

The Tugendhat Villa is a masterpiece of the Modern Movement in architecture. The German architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) applied the radical new concepts of the Modern Movement triumphantly in the Tugendhat Villa to the design of residential buildings.
The villa was designed by van der Rohe for Grete Weiss and her husband Fritz Tugendhat, members of wealthy industrial families in the city of Brno in former Czechoslovakia. The architect accepted the commission in 1927 and the villa was completed by the end of 1930. The architect took charge of the project down to the smallest detail, also designing all the furniture of the house, designs that have become world-renowned.
Mies van der Rohe was one of the principal architects in the development of the Modern Movement in architecture, which characterized design and construction in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and North America. Originally from Aachen and then working in Berlin, he was influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. During the German occupation, the Tugendhat family left Czechoslovakia and the Villa was taken over by the German State in 1939. It lost most of its original furniture, and was subject to some alterations and damage. After the war, the building was taken over by the State of Czechoslovakia. The Tugendhat Villa Fund was established in 1993, and a scientific restoration of the building took place.
The Tugendhat Villa is a detached house in a residential area of the city of Brno. The entrance to the house is from the street on the north side of the lot, which slopes down towards the south, forming a small garden. The building has three floors, one facing the street and three developing down towards the garden. The house has a flat roof, and each floor has a different plan. The uppermost floor is entered directly from street level and includes a terrace that traverses the house and forms a balcony on the garden side. From here one reaches a small entrance hall, family bedrooms and services; the master bedroom and dressing room are on the garden side. The garage and caretaker's lodging are at the west end of the house. From the hallway and from the balcony there are stairways leading down to the main floor, which has three parts. The first part is the main living area with a winter garden, reception room, music corner, study and library, sitting areas, dining room and services.
The second part has kitchen facilities, and the third part consists of the servants' area. The living area has large windows on two sides and is directly joined to the terrace, which is partly open, partly covered, and has a wide stairway leading down to garden level. The ground level has utility rooms and is used for technical purposes. The main structure of the house is made from reinforced concrete with steel frames. A structure of polished steel pillars supports the entire house. A steel skeleton also carries ceramic ceiling panels.
The exterior of the house is rendered and painted white. Light-coloured travertine tiles are used in the staircases leading down to the garden and in the living hall there is ivory-coloured linoleum. The entrance is panelled with dark palisander wood. The back wall of the living area is made from beautiful onyx, the same division as in the glass wall opening towards the garden. The original furniture and some of the pieces were made specifically for this house, such as the so-called Tugendhat chair, in chromium-plated flat steel elements and upholstered in stitched leather. The living area was furnished in such a way that each piece had its specific place. The mechanical equipment designed and built for the house was also exceptional, including special structural solutions for the use of steel pillars, for processing the onyx wall that was brought from the African Atlas Mountains, and for the electrically operated large steel-frame windows. The house had central heating and an air-conditioning system with a regulated fine-spray humidifying chamber.
Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

Historical Description

The Tugendhat Villa was designed by the German architect, Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), for Grete Weiss and her husband Fritz Tugendhat, members of wealthy industrial families in the city of Brno in former Czechoslovakia. The architect accepted the commission in 1927, and the design process lasted about two years, parallel with designing the German Pavilion (1928-29) at the International Fair in Barcelona, commissioned by the German Government. The construction of the Tugendhat Villa was completed by the end of 1930. The architect took charge of the project down to the smallest detail, also designing all the furniture of the house, designs that have become world-renowned.
Mies van der Rohe was one of the principal architects in the development of the Modern Movement in Architecture, which characterized design and construction in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and North America. Originally from Aachen and then working in Berlin, he was influenced by the work and teachings of Behrens and Berlage, by the principles of the De Stijl movement, as well as by Frank Lloyd Wright. His early interests were in developing design concepts for high-rise buildings in reinforced concrete and glass in the early 1920s: he designed the Weissenhof apartments in Stuttgart in 1927, another key work in the Modern Movement. From 1926 Mies van der Rohe was a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, and from 1930 to 1933 he was Director of the Bauhaus in Dessau. He later moved to Chicago in the USA, teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology and designing large office buildings, his later trademark. His furniture designs have become classics in the 20th century.
During the German occupation, the Tugendhat family left Czechoslovakia and the Villa was taken over by the German State in 1939. It lost most of its original furniture, and was subject to some alterations and damage - eg that caused by a bomb explosion in the neighbourhood in 1944. After the war, the building was taken over by the State of Czechoslovakia; it served a nearby children's hospital and then the national health institute of Brno, becoming the property of the City of Brno. In 1962 the Villa was protected as a national monument. There was increasing interest in restoring it, and the first study to this effect was made in 1971, leading to a restoration campaign in 1981-85, which guaranteed the continuation of the use of the building on a provisional basis. The Tugendhat Villa Fund was established in 1993, followed by the decision of the Friends of the Tugendhat Fund to undertake a scientific restoration of the building. This work took place beginning in 1994 and funds were raised to furnish the building with replicas of the original designs by Mies van der Rohe.


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