Villa Tugendhat is a legendary construction designed by Mies Van Der Rohe. This is a building that has accompanied me since I opened my first book of architecture at the age of thirteen. The iconic elements of this extraordinary house: the curved mahogany wall, the cruciform steel pillars, the sliding front windows, and the moveable curtains became for me a constant source of adoration and inspiration.
Visiting the villa during the summer of 2013 was not only a confirmation of the great value of this building but it was a discovery: an emotional, sensitive travel through space and time. The access to the house is only granted by joining a guided tour which can be booked at the web site: http://www.tugendhat.eu/. All the English speaking tours were sold out basically for the entire summer therefore I had to book a tour in Czech. I arrived at the house´s entrance well before my assigned slot which was 17.00 of the 24th of July: the last tour of the day. I walked from the city centre of Brno uphill and after twenty minutes there it stands at number 45 of Černopolní: Villa Tugendhat. What it struck me immediately were the houses next the villa: contemporary in terms of age but a world apart in terms of appearance. A light fence defines the property and once crossed the show begins.
The curved glass wall that defined the foyer accompanies you inside the house and this feeling of entering is further emphasized by the roof that bridges the house with the garage/servants area.
Once inside the light becomes soft and it feels fresh, relaxed. The tour starts from the top floor which hosts the beautifully furnished bedrooms with original pieces from the 30s.
These are generous spaces, long rectangular capable of making coexist sleeping area with other activities such as writing, relaxing, playing, and conversing in an intimate way.
Once we descend one level I feel I am entering the belly of a whale. I imagined this building to be a glass container a house of light, but it is a house of shadows. It feels like a sculpture that has been curved out, it feels that the walls are thick and this creates a magical contrast with the openness of the windows: gigantic windows that can disappear inside the walls by an ingenious sliding system.
This is the living area, it is a playground. Different materials, different activities, very different light conditions create private intimate corners and more “public” spaces. I felt fascinated by this diversity. I started wondering how life was inside the house how Fritz and Greta Tugendhat and their children used the space. It made me feel sad knowing that the family had to leave the house in 1938. They left for the USA because Jewish.
Next to the dining room there is the kitchen, which feels like a laboratory all white and tidy and from there a set of stairs brings you down to the ground floor of the building where the services are located.
I was the last one to leave the house as I sat outside admiring the garden, music from the 30s started playing from inside the house it was a magical moment, I imagined the Tugendhat´s being happy, attending their garden, laughing with friends, the architecture became alive.