An ultra authentic refurbishment of Mies van der Rohe’s modernist masterpiece, the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, reveals the truth in the architect’s famous maxims that “Less is more” and “God is in the details”.
After being used as Nazi headquarters, a horse stable for the Russian Army, a dance school and even a rehabilitation center, the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, has finally been revealed for what it really is – a stunning example of the work of Mies van der Rohe in the form of a private house composed of clean lines, cathedral-like volumes and walls of glass. Originally constructed in 1929-1930, it has taken two years and over €7million to restore the German-American architect’s masterpiece, which opened to the public for the first time on March 6.
“God is in the details,” is the famous maxim of van der Rohe, a statement not forgotten by the Brno City Museum which worked with the children of the original owners Greta and Fritz Tugendhat to execute what has been described as one of the most authentic van der Rohe restorations to date. As much as possible, the Villa’s original furniture was tracked down and reinstalled, including a macassar ebony room divider that was found at the nearby Masaryk University and a bathtub which was retrieved from another house just a few kilometres away. Even the original Moravian sand supplier and Italian marble quarry were located, making the house approximately 80% original.
Now furnished with precise replicas of van der Rohe’s iconic furniture – including the Barcelona, Tugendhat, Brno and Stuttgart chairs – the Villa Tugendhat perfectly upholds the architect’s pioneering vision for modernist design. Most impressively, the “freely floating” living room is as contemporary as ever with its wall of rich gold onyx and undivided living space bathed in light from the floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the space. Even in the meticulously reconstructed technical rooms in the basement – which include what at the time was a state-of-the-art air conditioning plant, a boiler room, photo chamber, “moth chamber” and an engine room for the retractable windows – van der Rohe’s pioneering innovations for residential life are clear.
“Less is more” is another of van der Rohe’s famously quotable principles, a philosophy that might have been inspired by the spectacular Villa Tugendhat.
Visit Other Mies Van der Rohe buildings:
The Farnsworth House, 2 Hours drive from Chicago
Tours Tuesday through Sundays
The Mies Van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion, Barcelona
860-880 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Though private residences, the City Council deemed 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Chicago landmarks in 1996. The building is located within walking distance from the Loop, along Chicago's gold coast. Most people can only view the buildings from Lake Michigan's shores or from the public streets surrounding the building. One can also do a quick drive-by viewing by cruising down Lake Shore Drive.
Seagram Building, New York
+1 212 572 7000.
The buldiing is open to the public, with public spaces inside including the Four Seasons Restaurant (designed by Philip Johnson) and the Seagram Gallery on the Fourth Floor.
Tours are conducted weekly, at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Musem of Fine Arts, Houston
Neue Nationalgalerie, Berllin http://www.smb.museum/smb/sammlungen/details.php?lang=en&objID=20&n=1&r=13&s=6
“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.”
“It is better to be good than to be original.”
“I don't want to be interesting. I want to be good.”
“True education is concerned not only with practical goals but also with values. Our aims assure us of our material life, our values make possible our spiritual life. “
“We must learn what a building can be, what it should be, and also what it must not be... And just as we acquaint ourselves with materials, just as we must understand functions, so we must become familiar with the psychological and spiritual factors of our day. No cultural activity is possible otherwise; for we are dependent on the spirit of our time.”