The two-year renovation of one of the pearls of modernist architecture, Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, was completed at the end of February. The villa remains as one of the most important European works of the world-acclaimed German architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969).
Built in 1930, the villa was declared an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. Its current owner, the city of Brno, began an extensive renovation project in 2010, which has resulted in the villa being as close to its original appearance as possible, enabling visitors to take a step back in history.
The interiors of the villa were renovated by local company Amosdesign which carried out extensive research on the house - from period photographs and project details in museums to interviews with the heirs of both the original owners - the Tugendhat family - and the architect. This information formed the basis for the renovation that followed.
Replicas were made for items as minor as locks and hinges as well as for parts of cupboards, tables and cabinets. For this, the designers opted for using materials that connected historically with the Thirties when the villa was built. As a final finish for the wooden surfaces, a mixture of synthetic oil and alkyd resins was prepared to the original recipe, as the research showed that this was the original coating material used.
For renovating and recreating the upholstery of the furniture, Amosdesign also opted for original materials such as jute, horsehair, African grass and traditional metal springs.
Not short of a small miracle was the return of the round macassar ebony dining room wall, which went missing from the building in 1940. It was thought to be lost forever but was discovered in a university canteen in Brno in 2010. The wall was renovated and united with its original surroundings after 70 years.
Replicas were also made of the original steel furniture in the building, including the now famous Brno and Tugendhat chairs. For the replicas, new manufacturing drawings were prepared after existing pieces of furniture were carefully studied, but rather than just copying the period furniture, Amosdesign took the original Thirties' prototypes as their starting point. All in all, replicas were made for 14 types of metal furniture.
Villa Tugendhat is now open for visitors.