Saturday, February 18, 2012

Czech Republic : Tugendhat Villa in Brno (2001)

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 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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