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|Architect||Ludwig Mies van der Rohe||
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|Location||Krefeld, Germany map|
|Construction System||brick bearing, steel spanning|
|Notes||planar walls, strip windows, free cuboid composition.|
|Discussion||H. Lange House Commentary
"The most striking motif here is the double row of ribbon windows across the central section, of which the upper, narrower one recedes together with the top of the wall and thus completely disappears behind the projecting line of the facade. With this smaller row of windows it was possible to provide adequate illumination to the vestibules and bathrooms that separate the corridor from the row of bedrooms facing the garden...The threefold division of the facade is much more strongly accentuated by virtue of this setback. Moreover, it is underscored by means of the strictly asymmetrical arrangement of the lower band of windows, which would appear to suggest an unseen central axis....The asymmetrical placement of the windows on the ground floor is only partially effective in opposing the centering tendency above.
Of the adjacent portions of the building, only the northeast wing is recognizably developed as an independent structure. A tendency for the facade to appear lopsided on this end is largely prevented by the massiveness of the closed brick to the west, which holds it in check. The result is a subtle equilibrium between a wall that suggests massivenessbut is nonetheless virtually insubstantialand a three-dimensional volume whose impression of solidity is questioned by the frequent perforations in its skin. In this case the clear separation of these two elements from the central section does not appear to present any problem at first. It does, however, run into considerable difficulty from the fact that though the sole distinguishing feature of the upper setback is reflected in the width of the band of windows along the corridor below, its western end falls directly above a window opening on the ground floor. Moreover, even a brief glance at the floor plan reveals that there is virtually no correspondence between the facade and the arrangement of the interior...The demand for readability, clarity, and unambiguousness in the relationship between the interior and exterior of a building that is so often discussed in relation to modern architecture would appear to have been turned into its precise opposite here...."
Wolf Tegethoff. Mies van der Rohe: The Villas and Country Houses. p64.
"For the Lange and Esters houses Mies chose light red bricks and added light purple accents. The wooded sites slope gently away from the street, and the houses are settled on terraces bounded by brick walls and steps leading to the garden. The elevations are serene and asymmetrically balanced, without any articulation. The windows are large and simple; the plain, smooth doors stretch up to the smooth plane of the ceiling, so that the internal walls read as screens.
In the Lange House the huge picture windows on the garden elevation slide down at the press of a button powered by Parsons electrical motors imported from England. The roller-shutter blinds are also operated in this manner. Mies chose natural silk curtains to complement the blond wood floors. The building now houses a galleryappropriately enough since Hermann Lange was a collector himself and stored his paintings in the basement.
The house has been carefully restored, but the ground floor is no longer quite as Mies designed it. During the Second World War a bar was installed at one end of the open-plan living area and it was later enclosed to form a small room.
Frank Russell, ed. Mies van der Rohe: European Works. p58.
The Creator's Words
"What would concrete be, what steel, without plate glass?
The ability of both to transform space would be limited, even lost altogether; it would remain only a vague promise.
Only a glass skin and glass walls can reveal the simple structural form of the skeletal fame and ensure its architectonic possibilities. And this is true not only of large utilitarian buildings. To be sure, it was with them that a line of development based on function and necessity began that needs no further justification; it will not end there, however, but will find its fulfillment in the realm of residential building.
Only here, in a field offering greater freedom, one not bound by narrower objectives, and the architectural elements forming the basis for a new art of building. They permit us a degree of freedom in the creation of space that we will no longer deny ourselves. Only now can we give shape to space, open it, and link it to the landscape. It now becomes clear once more just what walls and openings are, and floors and ceilings.
Simplicity of construction, clarity of tectonic means, and purity of materials have about them the glow of pristine beauty."
Mies van der Rohe. from Wolf Tegethoff. Mies van der Rohe: The Villas and Country Houses. p66.
Sources on H. Lange House
Edward R. Ford. The Details of Modern Architecture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990. ISBN 0-262-06121-X. LC 89-31772. NA2840.F67 1989. exterior photo, f9.1, structure axon, f9.2, section construction detail, f9.3, p262. interior photo, f9.6, detail drawings, p265. Highly recommended for serious observers, and available at Amazon.com
Frank Russell, ed. Mies van der Rohe, European Works. Architectural Monographs 11. London: Academy Editions, 1986. ISBN 0312532148. LC 86013844. NA1088.M65M54 1986. photo of covered terraces, f5, p59.
Kenneth Frampton. Modern Architecture in Color. New York: The Viking Press, 1971. color photo of front entrance, p269, plate 54.
Wolf Tegethoff. Mies Van Der Rohe: The Villas and Country Houses. Cambridge Mass: The MIT Press, 1985. ground floor plan, plate 8.5. elevation, plate 8.4. second floor plan, plate 8.3.
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