German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe joined the Bauhaus design school as the director of architecture during the middle 1920s, using their functionalist use of simple geometric forms in design. Villa Tugendhat was one of his important projects. Started in 1928, the villa was built in Brno in the Czech Republic for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat and was completed by 1930.
Villa Tugendhat, Brno, 1930
Just as well the Tugendhats had made money in the textile industry. The cost of building this large villa was very high due to the unusual construction method, the exotic materials that Mies surprisingly chose and the modern technologies of heating and ventilation. Christopher's Expat Adventure reminds us that one of Mies’ huge windows is motorised and retracts.
I say surprisingly because Bauhaus architects tended to add very few decorative elements for their own sake. Yet Mies used naturally patterned materials such an onyx and rare tropical woods on some of the interior walls. Perhaps he compromised his architectural principles to keep his clients happy.
Light and airy interior, with stunning views
It was only in 1963 that Villa Tugendhat was declared a cultural monument. A plan was set into motion to begin reconstruction of the house, but the damage must have been considerable. In the meantime the house maintained its historic significance, such that in 1992, the treaty to divide Czechoslovakia was signed at the Villa Tugendhat!
To mark the importance of Bauhaus modernism, the villa has been open to the public as a state museum for the last 15 years. Fortunately Villa Tugendhat was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001. Since then, restoration of the villa has started, carefully retaining the integrity of Mies’ original design.