The Tugendhat Villa in Brno, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of the international style in the modern movement in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production. The villa was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.
The free-standing three-story villa is on a slope and faces the south-west. The second story (the ground floor) consists of the main living and social areas with the conservatory and the terrace, and the kitchen and servants' rooms. The third story (the first floor) has the main entrance from the street with a passage to the terrace, the entrance hall, and rooms for the parents, children and the nanny with appropriate facilities. The chauffeur's flat with the garages and the terrace are accessed separately.
Mies' design principle of 'less is more' and emphasis on functional amenities created a fine example of early functionalism architecture, a groundbreaking new vision in building design at the time. Mies used a revolutionary iron framework, which enabled him to dispense with supporting walls and arrange the interior in order to achieve a feeling of space and light. One wall is a sliding sheet of plate glass that descends to the basement the way an automobile window does. Mies specified all the furnishings, in collaboration with interior designer Lilly Reich (two armchairs designed for the building, the Tugendhat chair and the Brno chair, are still in production). There were no paintings or decorative items in the villa, but the interior was by no means austere due to the use of naturally patterned materials such as the captivating onyx wall and rare tropical woods. The onyx wall is partially translucent and changes appearance when the evening sun is low. The architect managed to make the magnificent view from the villa an integral part of the interior.
The cost was very high due to the unusual construction method, luxurious materials, and the use of modern technology for heating and ventilation. The lower-ground level was used as a service area. An ultra-modern air-conditioning system was here and a glass façade that opens completely assisted by a mechanism built into the wall. The floor area was unusually large and open compared to the average family home of the period, which, in addition to the various storage rooms, made the structure unique if not confusing to visitors not used to such minimalism.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.