Our Shropshire architects Loves the domestic architect projects of Architect Mies Van Der Rohe

Our Shropshire architects are often inspired by others, but they also aim to inspire those wanting to enter the world of architecture and become principal designers too. After all, to keep knowledge and experience a secret is somewhat of a selfish and senseless thing to do- two things that JDP are not. Becoming one great big hive mind of knowledge can help spread innovation and creativity across the globe, so why not give that a shot?

It’s time to have a gander at the life of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and note how his passion for teaching others is also admirable.

Shropshire architects looking at the domestic architect of a farmhouse

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Born on March 27th, 1886, German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had quite a successful career as both an architect and principal designer. Rohe not only aimed to incorporate his own style of domestic architecture into the modern era but was also an accomplished designer in his own right, designing furniture still recognisable and used today. His style was largely one of ‘clarity and simplicity’ and many of the materials he used were of the time (such as industrial steel and plate glass).

His buildings often ended up with what Rohe himself referred to as a “skin and bones” type of architecture, in which there was a minimal framework so as to imply freedom through large and free-flowing open spaces. Making sure his contemporary house designs felt of the time was important to Rohe. The way in which he was willing to innovate and try to inspire others is an aspect of his character and his works that inspires our Shropshire architects firm. We aim to create projects that are fitting with the modern era that are innovative and unique in their own right.

contemporary house design

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A Principal Designer of Homes and Furniture

When it comes to furniture design, Rohe was known to frequently collaborate with Lilly Reich and designed many items that are considered popular classics today. These include the ‘Barcelona Chair and Table’, the ‘Brno Chair’, and the ‘Tungendhat Chair’. Rohe’s furniture is regarded highly for its fine craftsmanship that blends luxurious materials (fabrics and leather) with a modern style of chrome framing. 

Rohe’s architectural career began as an apprentice to Peter Behrens from 1908-1912. It was during this time he became familiar with the current contemporary house design theories of the age and that of the German culture. Working alongside Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, Mies was a construction manager of the Embassy of the German Empire in Saint Petersburg. Not a bad gig to start off with at all.

When World War 1 came to an end, Rohe was still designing traditional neoclassical homes, but longed to become more experimental and searched for a new style suitable for the age. In a way, World War 1 would help pave the way for Rohe, due to a large turning on the ‘old world order’ that came before it.

Whilst many of the following domestic architect projects Rohe would develop didn’t dome to fruition, they did boost his credibility, fame, and reputation. In 1921 with his he revealed his design for the Friedrichstraße skyscraper, with a design for a taller, curved version (named the Glass Skyscraper) unveiled in 1922. Our Shropshire architects admire this about Rohe, and are always trying to show innovation in their projects too.

Our Shropshire architects examining domestic architects

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Following this, the next decade saw various successes for Rohe. In 1926 he constructed the Villa Wolf, and this was followed up in 1928 with Haus Lange and Haus Esters. Rohe then went on to complete the (albeit temporary) German Pavilion for the Barcelona exposition in 1929 and the Villa Tugendhat in 1930.

Before these projects had been completed, back in 1923 Rohe joined the German avant-garde and worked with the progressive design magazine G. He’d also become the architectural director of the Werkbund, and one of the founders of the architectural association Der Ring. Not only this, but Rohe joined the avant-garde Bauhaus design school as their director of architecture. As you can see, he had fingers in a lot of architectural contemporary house design projects.

He left for America to live in Chicago as a head of the department of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Whilst at IIT, Rohe introduced a new kind of education and attitude to teaching which became very influential in North America and Europe in the following decades. Whilst at IIT, Rohe was also able to be the principal designer for buildings on the campus, the majority of which are still standing today.

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Rohe’s contemporary house design projects during this period displayed his inspirations from the German Bauhaus and Western European International Style, these would go on to become a largely accepted mode of building in America, for a whole range of buildings.

During his time in America, several of Rohe’s projects came to fruition and were widely well-received and helped boost his reputation further. Of note are the residential towers of ‘860–880 Lake Shore Drive’, the ‘Chicago Federal Center Complex’, the ‘Farnsworth House’, ‘Crown Hall’, and the ‘Seagram Building’. 

Between 1946 and 1951, he completed the Farnsworth House, which aimed to examine the relationship between man and nature. There is a minimal structural frame, with rooms often all in one space without divide, and plenty of glass to allow light in and nature to be observed. Our Shropshire architects are also keen to explore nature in our projects, with Rohe being one of our big inspirations. 

Not content with a dwelling for a single family though, Rohe is also responsible for the creation of the Promontory Apartments in Hyde Park. This building features his iconic skin-and-bones approach to its design, there are communal spaces too and plenty of glass that overlooks the surrounding area, allowing people to once again be at one with nature. This and other high-rise buildings Rohe would work on stood out for their use of glass, because it differed from the common brickwork featured heavily elsewhere. Ever the innovator, always an inspiration.

As well as his work on buildings for IIT, Rohe designed two buildings for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and would be granted the reins to create a master plan for the MFAH. This saw him create two additions to the building, which were completed in 1958 and 1974 (post-mortem), respectively.  

The final project Rohe undertook was the Neue Nationalgalerie art museum for the Berlin National Gallery. To many, it’s considered one of his masterpieces of architecture, which isn’t too bad of a project to end on.

As mentioned, Rohe was also insistent on trying to teach others how to be innovative and build a better world, believing he could convey his ideas on architecture to others, who could then apply his methods to their own work. Rohe was known to work on prototype solutions and then gave students the opportunity to develop their own ideas from what he presented.

Some of Rohe’s curriculum is used to this day for first- and second-year students at IIT and his hopes of others taking up his mantle is very much a reality. It’s unsurprising to hear then that In 1961, a program at Columbia University’s School of Architecture celebrated the four great founders of contemporary architecture (Charles-Edouard Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright). This program included talks from Le Corbusier and Gropius, as well as an interview with Rohe. The discussions centred around their design philosophies and their architectural projects. After his death, in 1963, Rohe was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Ultimately, whether it be the innovation of his architectural designs, the influence of his furniture designs, or the ways in which he aimed to teach and inspire others, there are many facets to Ludwig Van Der Rohe’s life that are truly admirable.

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