In 2002 the Villa Tugendhat in Brno was the first modern architectural site in the Czech Republic, and the fourth in the world, to be enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Funtionalist villa is considered a building which set new standards of living and belongs to the most important sites of the world modern achitecture. It was designed for the Tugendhat family by one of the most prominent architects of that time, the German Ludwig Miews van der Rohe, who projected the interior as well.
The house was revolutionary for a few reasons. The glass walls completely merged the house with its surroundings, some of the windows could be lowered to the floor – the interior was then joined with the garden which made it even more impressive. The actual construction of the villa is very interesting too. It is formed by a steel frame and the ceilings are not upheld by walls but chrome-plated pillars. Even though the architect designed the villa with three floors, looking at it from the street it appears as a two-storey house. The ground floor comprises a hall, lounge, study and a dining room. In the basement there was a laundry and storage rooms, photo room and boiler room. The second floor served with bedrooms, children and nanny rooms functioned as a living area.
The villa was equipped with a unique air-conditioning system which was well ahead of its time. In fact, most of the equipment in the Tugendhat villa were based on the most up-to-date and advanced technology. It does not come as a surprise that the price was more than over 3,5 million crowns. That time this sum of money would have been enough for thirty common houses.
Nonetheless the Jewish family of Tugendhat did not have an opportunity to enjoy the villa for a long time. Apprehensive of Hitler and their future, they emigrated to St. Gallen in Switzerland in 1938 and later to Venezuela. After World War II it was used for a variety of purposes and at the beginning of the 1980s quite a successful reconstruction was carried out there. The basic setting of the villa has been preserved, although some things, such as the original fittings in the bathroom, have disappeared.
Nowadays the Tugendhat villa is open to the public though its resconstruction will take place in the near future. After that it will be closed at least until 2010. The villa is currently a subject of restitution proceedings as the original owners are trying to claim it back.
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