A New Life for Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat
April 3, 2012
Last month, Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat Villa reopened to the public after an $8.8 million, 2-year, reconstruction. The 1930 villa, built for Fritz and Greta Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, is a groundbreaking example of modern architecture, a poetic union of glass, steel, marble and reinforced concrete that touts Mies’ “less is more” design philosophy through and through. Though it commands respect as a prototype of the modernist ethos, it can almost only be thought of as such; the villa was a home to the Tugendhats for a mere 8 years before the family abandoned the house and fled the country during World War II. Shortly thereafter, the villa fell into disrepair, with no means of upkeep as the beginning of communism took hold in the Czech Republic.
Today, the Villa Tugendhat stands as a salient prototype of historic preservation. After an extensive research period that pieced together original construction plans archived at the MoMA and photographs of the home from the Tugendhat family, Mies’ masterpiece has been faithfully restored. David Židlický recently snapped photos of the restored Villa Tugendhat for Dwell; click through for more photos.
The long renovation process has no shortage of remarkable anecdotes. Not only did preservationists hunt down original furnishings, vintage rugs, wood veneers, and plant arrangements to meticulously reproduce the original conditions of the home, but they also discovered the original curved macassar wall from the villa’s living room in a nearby university cafeteria, restoring to the villa what had been moved to the Gestapo’s local headquarters and thought to have been lost decades ago. Exact copies of Mies’ Tugendhat chairs were made where the originals had been lost (including miniature versions of Mies’ furniture for the children), and the family’s stark décor—which was respectful of the architecture’s minimalist ethos—has been reproduced for public viewing. The restored Villa Tugendhat is an incredible snapshot of 1930’s European life, a vision that was far ahead of its time.
[All photos: David Židlický, via Dwell]