An exhibition about the famous Tugendhat Villa by Mies van der Rohe is currently on display in the City of Prague Museum. The travelling exhibition on the history of the UNESCO landmark was prepared by the Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre and has already made 25 stops around the world, including the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, or the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan.
The Tugendhat Villa, designed by famous Dutch architect Mies van der Rohe, was completed in 1930 and is the only example of modern Czech architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage List, where it was included in 2001.
According to Iveta Černá, the head of the Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre, it is considered one of the masterpieces of Modernism and is comparable to the likes of Villa Savoie by Le Corbusier or Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright.
“There are several aspects that make the villa unique, and one of them is the space. It’s a so-called flowing space, created thanks to special skeleton construction made of Berlin steel.
“Van der Rohe was able to create a living room with 230 square metres. The room is facing the historical horizon of the city of Brno and two facades are completely glazed from the floor to the ceiling.
“And talking about the technical equipment, the main space was fully air-conditioned, which was very unusual at that time, and there is also a photo cell, which was also very unusual for the era.”
Grete and Fritz Tugendhat, who commissioned the villa, only lived there for eight years. In 1938, when German troops occupied the Czech borders, they were forced to flee the country because of their Jewish origin.
The villa was taken over by the Gestapo and confiscated by the Czechoslovak state in 1945. The exhibition, which is on display in Villa Müller, which is part of the City of Prague Museum, presents dozens of large scale photos with accompanying text documenting the history of the villa from its inception to the present day. It is complemented by an illuminated model of the building.
The exhibition was put together by the Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre in 2012 and has since travelled all around the world. Iveta Černá mentioned at least some of its stops:
“We were commissioned by the faculty of Architecture in Porto, by the holders of the Pritzker Price, Eduardo Souza and Eduardo Souto de Moura.
The exhibition on Villa Tugendhat in Prague’s Villa Müller runs until January 28.
“The exhibition was also presented in two houses designed by Miese van der Rohe, including Stuttgart’s Weißenhofsiedlung, which is the gallery of Miese van der Rohe.
“And finally it was displayed in Weimar, in the First School of Bauhaus, designed by Walter Gropius. Miese van der Rohe was its last director, so there is also a strong connection.”