The Tug: before n’ after

Years before the $8.8 million, 2-year renovation occurred, I took a bus from Prague to Brno to see Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat. All we knew before we embarked on this day trip was the house was on a hill, right outside the city.

Above: Me sitting on the back steps of the Tug.

Not knowing more than a handful of words in Czech, fellow architecture student, Amanda, and I trusted we’d figure out the location and get back to the bus stop in time to make it home (to Prague) for dinner.

When we finally approached the house, set in the midst of a traditional inner-ring suburban neighborhood, it looked closed. It was closed. The woman who typically gave tours was out, but her daughter was available and she could give a tour with some English words. The small staff was hesitant to grant us access, but after recalling the stories of my Architectural History professor who had spoken of numerous times were she was denied admittance on the first try, we persisted. We didn’t need so much of a guided tour, we explained, for as well bred architecture students, we merely needed access to one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century. And certainly the inexperienced tour guide could handle two girls, couldn’t she? Our arguments were winning ones and soon we were in the gate.

       The house had aged considerably since I’d last seen it pictured in history books (as evidenced by the photographs above). While the furnishes remained as they were when Fritz and Greta Tugendhat lived there, the curtains were full of dust, the leather of the chairs ripped and the endless ribbon windows speckled with grim. After insisting that we weren’t from the NYT or Prague Post, the tour guide’s daughter allowed us to take photographs, although she was clear that her mother would have never allowed such a thing. “You don’t tell, I won’t tell”, she asserted. And so we went. After awhile, the guide was called away but allowed us to remain. We had won her favor. This is when we started sitting on the house (see above).

Of course, at this time, every thing I saw, ate, smelled went immediately to Facebook to share with those less mobile than me, a vagabond in Eastern Europe. And at that time Facebook was limiting album sizes to 60 photographs. If you’re interested in seeing the BEFORE (circa Spring 2008) check out these links (album one + album two).

If you’re interested in the house post-renovation, well, unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve seen it in every major newspaper and design magazine in the past few weeks. Still, here’s a link for you bone up on the amazingness that is the Tug.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Personal photos from a private tour of Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat {circa spring 2008}

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.515994450869.2065214.4803729&type=3&l=504cffb7be

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.515993707359.2065212.4803729&type=3&l=e61a48b604

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3 thoughts on “The Tug: before n’ after

  1. This must have been awesome. I remember going to the Farnsworth house and being massively impressed, but Farnsworth didn’t have book-matched marble. Look at that crack in the lower level! I’m glad they found it in their hearts and pockets to fix ‘er back up.
    BTW, Morning Edition ran a piece on Cleveland’s house demolition program that you posted about a little while ago:
    http://www.npr.org/2012/04/05/149988707/ohio-tears-through-blighted-housing-problem
    You’re ahead of the curve.

  2. Thanks for the link, Ray! Stop spending time commenting on my blog and make up more celebrity architect teasers! Just kidding – find time to do both!!!!

  3. Pingback: Walking Tour of Pittsburgh & Koppers Tower « rmbarch

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