A sedate exterior belies the acclaim and turmoil of Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic. Architect Mies van der Rohe, known for his “less is more” approach, designed the villa for newly-wed and industrial heirs Grete and Fritz Tugendhat.
Completed in 1930, its steel-framed, glass and concrete construction expressed the budding Modern Movement through the intersection of its materials, including ebony and onyx, and textures. The interior offered the space and light that were seen as essential to modern living, and a panoramic view of the city.
The Glass Room featured walls that could retract into the floor like a car window, opening onto the gardens. Excitement over the house was short-lived, though; the Tugendhats fled the country just eight years later, shortly before the German occupation.
Sadly, as one of the most influential houses of the 20th century, it was not spared the ravages of war. The villa was used as a Gestapo military quarters and offices and was later damaged during combat.
In 1967, Grete Tugendhat returned to the villa with experts, aiming to renovate it; however, the Communist era intervened, and the new occupants subdivided the villa with pasteboard walls and used the garage as a stable.
The Czech Government eventually restored the building which, in the early 1990s, was the site of the signing of the document that divided the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Today, Villa Tugendhat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site open for tours. To see more images of this iconic house visit Villa Tugendhat’s photo gallery here.