Tugendhat Haus / CZ
“Less is more” – this was the design credo of modern architecture in the 20th century. One of its most important proponents was certainly Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the German-American architect and Director of Bauhaus. His works were architectural trailblazers – especially his Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, built in 1929-30. After two years of restoration work, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was reopened to the public in 2012. With a great eye for detail, as displayed by van der Rohe himself, the faithful restoration tackled the villa’s structure, surfaces, technical systems and furniture. The DLW Linoleum from Armstrong was also successfully refurbished, true to the original.
On a steep slope overlooking the city, the industrialist couple Fritz and Grete Tugendhat commissioned what was said to be the world’s most expensive single-family dwelling at the time. With his design, Mies van der Rohe pushed the modern open floor plan to the limit. The steel frame structure (then a major innovation in domestic architecture) made load-bearing walls unnecessary, so that – particularly in the 15 x 24 m main floor of the expansive villa – an impressive spatial continuum could emerge, even extending out into the environment: the southeast side features floor-to-ceiling windows that slide down electrically into the floor, allowing for a fusion of architecture and nature.
Only the kitchen is separate from the rest of the 240 m² living space, which only uses a few flexible elements to define the entry, sitting, dining and working areas. Van der Rohe placed the bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper floor, as a private sanctuary. Beyond simplicity of construction and clarity of architectonic idiom, another aesthetic principle applied by this influential architect was purity of materials: the more unadorned the building, the more precious the materials.
For the Villa Tugendhat, van der Rohe chose the best of everything: rosewood doors, Italian travertine, a glass dining table with crossed chrome legs, wood panelling of Makassar ebony, silk curtains, and – the highlight of the living area – a free-standing dividing wall of onyx marble, specially quarried in the Moroccan Atlas mountains for the Tugendhats.
Even the smallest details were addressed in the building’s design. The majority of the furnishings, right down to the doorknobs and window handles, were not only custom designed for the villa by van der Rohe – he even specified their precise locations. In order to harmonize with the natural light and the constantly shifting play of nature’s colours, he deliberately chose discreet and subdued colours for the interiors, as well as various tones of white and black. Therefore, the floors of the living and sleeping spaces were covered in ivory-coloured DLW Linoleum – a custom colour requested by the architect.
After only eight years of residence, the Jewish Tugendhat family fled from Brno in 1938. The villa was badly damaged during the war, and after that, it was repeatedly used for other purposes, even serving as a horse stable. During a first, poorly done restoration in 1981-85, several of the remaining original components were irretrievably lost. It was only in 2010 that a historically faithful restoration was begun, bringing it very close to the original mint condition. Even the villa’s technical systems were repaired to the original state, so that the air conditioning now functions, as does the dumbwaiter and the door intercom. To achieve this, some parts of the villa had to be stripped down to the skeleton. In some cases, it was necessary to reproduce certain materials that were otherwise near impossible to find, such as the white ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms.
In contrast, it was easy to faithfully refurbish the linoleum flooring. Since its invention, linoleum’s composition has hardly changed. Then as now, it is made of natural, primarily renewable raw materials such as linseed oil, resins, wood flour, cork, chalk and jute, in a unique and trusted formulation. A total of 760 m² of our timeless Bauhaus classic, Uni Walton in “frost grey” and “silver grey”, was installed with the restoration of the Villa Tugendhat. Today, this monochrome linoleum remains a favourite of architects, interior designers and contractors, as it perfectly suits contemporary tastes for purism in design.
|Country/City:||Czechia / Brünn|
|Client:||Ehepaar Fritz und Grete Tugendhat|
|Architect:||Ludwig Mies van der Rohe|
|Address:||Černopolní 45, 613 00 Brno, Tschechien|