Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe – Who, What, Why and How Essay
This essay will investigate the influences and theories upon which Ludwig Mies van der Rohe based his architecture. It will attempt to identify the type of designer Mies was and to what result this influences architecture today. “Less is more” and “God is in the details” These aphorisms are often associated with Mies by studying the architecture and the theories which Mies produced along with writing and research from other authors and architects I hope to understand more about what Mies meant by these.The essay will be structured in a linear fashion following the set headings and concluding at the end, the sections will identify the: type of designer Mies was, his influences, the architecture he produced and how he remains to influence architecture of today. Who is Mies Mies was an Architect at the dawn of modernism, classed in the same rank as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier.
Modernist architects retained an underlying constant belief in the power of form to transform the world, through modern architecture’s sleek machined surfaces and structural rationalism, architects passionately believed that housing and other social problems could be solved. (Ghirado p9) Mies declared himself against formalism and aesthetic speculation, writing ‘Architecture is the will of the age conceived in spatial terms. Living, changing, new’ at the same time he went on to declare ‘the office building is a house of work… of organization, of clarity, of economy, bright, wide, workrooms, easy to oversee.He stated the primary property of architecture should be ‘maximum effect with the minimum expenditure of means’, he claimed that the materials which would enable this style of architecture were ‘concrete, iron and glass.
’ (Frampton. p. 163) As Mies’s style of architecture matured through the theme of modernism it became chilled, minimalist, which resulted in little more than buildings of steel and glass.
(Watkin. P. 648) What are van der Rohes Influences Looking at the career of Mies we can see the various influences that he carried throughout.The styles he inherited from his craft training, the influences from other architects of the period and from history also.
We see the way he revives architectural themes and manipulates them to create a source for new ideas and theories of what architecture should be. Mies was once the director of the Bauhaus school, remaining so until its closure. In 1954, Mies looked back at his time at the Bauhaus and its mission then came to the conclusion that: ‘The Bauhaus was not an institution with a clear programme – it was an idea. It was an idea which combined the objective values of standardization and technology with the humanism of craft production. (Sparke. p163) This idea of standardization which Mies conceived from the resulting efforts of the Bauhaus had animated the Modern Movement with a vengeance towards designing buildings, and by the mid-1960s a backlash began to form. ‘The task of repeating steel frames and curtain walls turned out to be not terribly taxing, and even less demanding of creativity. ’ (Ghirado.
p. 2) When the construction industry started using ‘modern’ materials and methods such as steel frame structures and curtain wall systems on a wider more commercial scale, Mies saw opportunity to take advantage of the fact. Mies developed a personal ideal which is known as ‘Mies van der Rohe’s ideal of beinahe nichts’ or ‘almost nothing’ in English, this ideal seeks to reduce the building task to the status of industrial design, coherent with the prevailing modes of production and consumption.
(Frampton. p. 0)Mies work seemed to take various influences, two of which are the berlage brick tradition and the dictum that ‘nothing should be built that is not clearly constructed’ and Kasimir Maalevich’s suprematism.
Suprematism was an art movement, focused on basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colors. It was founded by Kazimir Malevich in Russia, in 1915. The term suprematism refers to an art based upon “the supremacy of pure artistic feeling” rather than on visual depiction of objects. (Malevich. 2003. p.
7) These influences may have been huge factors to how Mies to developed the ‘free plan’ and applying them at the Barcelona Pavilion in 1929. (Frampton. p. 163) Mies van der Rohe defined a common position based around social ideals such as humanitarian liberalism, reformist pluralism and a vague social utopianism. This position made Mies see it as an obligation to propose alternative visions to the existing social order, this was a position shared by most modernist architects and they tend to carry through their buildings to perfection, as if they represented some underlying cosmic rder. (Jencks p31) How did Ludwig influence Mies architecture has continued to influence architecture since the birth of modernism, the Modem Movement’s commitment to lightness rather than weight and to space rather than mass has affected the design of not just architecture but many forms of art: interior, furniture and products, the work of Mies van der Rohe at the Bauhaus in tubular steel effected the twentieth-century environment, making Modernism a reality. ” (Sparke. 1994.
49) “Mies, tubular-steel side-chair designed and constructed in 1927 became famous as being one of the first cantilevered side-chairs made of tubular steel.Mies as the most uncompromising of the Modernist architects and this chair, which was followed by a model with arms, a stool and a coffee table, was the most visually exciting of the cantilevered chars of the 1920s. ” (Sparke. 1994. p 48) Mies has influenced and reinforces ideas that architects and mostly developers have even in todays construction industry, Mies wrote in 1927: “Today the factor of economy makes rationalization and standardization imperative in housing..
. he increased complexity of our requirements demands flexibility, the future will have to reckon with both. For this purpose skeleton construction is the most suitable system… it allows the interior to be freely divided. If we regard kitchens and bathrooms as a fixed core due to their services, then all other space may be partitioned by means of movable walls.
This should, I believe, satisfy all normal requirements. ” (Frampton. p. 64) This method of construction is highly practiced in today’s projects for exactly the same reasons as then; Mies hypothesised this theory from the needs of the economy. However if we look at how buildings have evolved since this was first mentioned we can see that there was always a need…
The logical one, to keep services together is standard wherever possible because it’s logical too. The same goes for the partitions, if the walls are not load bearing, then, they need not be built like them.As Mies identifies this allows for flexibility within the design and in today’s design counts toward building lifetime homes. Even when Mies was still a practising architect he was influencing the way designers solved problems, as part of major campaigns to “revitalize” urban areas designers would look at the gleaming glass boxes that Mies van der Rohe had first envisioned, note that these were more than a quarter of a century old. (Ghirado p10) What did Ludwig Mies van der Rohe doThe climax of Mies early career came with three masterworks that he designed in sequence, these were: the German State Pavilion at the Barcelona World Exhibition 1929, the Tugendhat House at Brno, Czechoslovakia of 1930 and the model house erected for the Berlin Building exhibition of 1931. (Frampton.
p. 164) The German State Pavilion at the Barcelona World Exhibition This building was used for the official opening of the German section of the exhibition. It is an important building in the history of modern architecture, known for its simple form and its spectacular use of extravagant materials.
The same features of minimalism can be applied to the prestigious furniture specifically designed for the building, among which the iconic Barcelona chair. (Zimmerman, C. 2006) Tugendhat House at Brno, Czechoslovakia Villa Tugendhat is a historical building in the wealthy neighbourhood of Cerna Pole in Brno, Czech Republic. It is one of the pioneering prototypes of modern architecture in Europe. Built of reinforced concrete between 1928-1930 for Fritz Tugendhat and his wife Greta, the villa soon became an icon of modernism. (Courland. 2012.
p. 326) ConclusionTo conclude this reflection of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s history, architecture, influences and the way architecture has been affected today by Mies I will use the aphorisms that I touched on in the introduction. “Less is more” and “God is in the details” The way this essay was structured helps to identify the various aspects of what I was trying to achieve, the purpose of this essay was to identify the influences which Mies himself where under, how he effected other architects and designers and what legacy he has left behind to influence future designers and architects. Less is more” This put simply is the law of minimalism; Mies was a pioneer in minimalism.
Using the right material in the right way was what he did best, put this together with: “God is in the details” Put in Mies early personal ideal “beinahe nichts” The outcome produces buildings the like of the Barcelona Pavilion, Farnsworth and The National Gallery in Berlin, Mies’s minimalist style resulted in little more than buildings of steel and glass. (Watkin. P. 48) As he matured his understanding of materials did so to and there was inclusion of more elements, but in the breakdown of Mies projects there lies the same principle in which he set out to understand… ‘The Bauhaus was not an institution with a clear programme – it was an idea.
‘ It was an idea which combined the objective values of standardization and technology with the humanism of craft production. (Sparke. p163) Throughout the range of Mies van der Rohes architecture we see a trend, the trend or standardization, the innovation of technology…
the continuation, the refinement, of Minimalism.