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villa-muller

Prague’s Villa Müller dazzles architecture buffs

Architecture buffs will not want to miss touring the Villa Müller in the Střešovice quarter of Prague’s sixth district. This neoclassical structure was a significant achievement in modern architecture during the interwar period. Designed by Viennese architect Adolf Loos and Czech Karel Lhota, the Villa Müller came into existence from 1928 to 1930. The building takes its name from František Müller, co-owner of a construction company, who had it built as a family residence.

Loos’ contributions to modern architecture are plenty. He invented the Raumplan, a design that puts emphasis on the cube form and dictates that each room be on a separate floor. His emphasis on simplicity and symmetry is visible in the spartan façade that is distinctly different from other villas in the quarter.

The half-German Müller family was allowed to live in Loos’ creation during Nazi rule. However, they would experience many hardships under Communism. During 1951, Mr. Müller died while stoking the boiler. Mrs. Müller was allotted two small rooms after her husband passed. The rest of the villa became offices from the Institute of Marxist-Leninism. The daughter, Eva, moved abroad. Mrs. Müller died in 1968.

After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Eva got the villa back and sold it to the City of Prague. It became a cultural monument in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and took on the status of National Monument of the Czech Republic in 1995. It has been open to the public since 2000.

While the exterior is notable for its starkness, the interior boasts of luxury. Take the living room, for instance. This light and airy space is divided into three sections. Low furniture decorates the two side areas while the middle part is empty. At one time, it had been used as a dance floor. There are pillars on one side instead of a wall. Loos’ penchant for utilizing rare materials is evident here, as the walls and pillars are made of rare marble.

The dining room is a far cry from the spacious and light living room. Dark and low, it is decorated with mahogany wood and has a coffered ceiling. The library also served as a meeting room with Mr. Müller’s clients. The blue-and-white tiled stove is exquisite, and above the fireplace is a mirror. The master bedroom boasts blue-on-cream boat-themed French wallpaper that matches the curtains and bedspread. The men’s dressing room and the ladies’ dressing room feature moveable drawers, a novelty for that era. A writing desk with collapsible mirror adorns the ladies’ dressing room.

The children’s room shows off bizarre color schemes. The furnishings are yellow, blue, green and red, for instance. This feature plays a major role in the architectural character of the villa. Again, the room is divided into parts, this time a playroom and a bedroom. One of the three beds is located behind a curtain. This is where Eva had to sleep when she was sick.

The summer dining room takes on a Japanese theme. There is a Japanese lantern over a table, and Japanese-influenced upholstery adorns the chairs. The color scheme is significant here, too. The furniture is green and black, but the wallpaper is silver. The kitchen is notable for its high windows, for instance. The tour also takes participants to the laundry room, the drying room and the garage. There also is a small exhibition room where people can become even better acquainted with Loos’ style.

The use of rare materials and the design of having rooms on separate levels punctuate Loos’ innovative creation. The use of bizarre colors is another dominant trait employed by Loos. The villa is located on Nad Hradním vodovojem Street in the Střešovice quarter. Reservations must be made in advance. Some tours are in English. Be sure to take a walk through the villa-dotted quarter while you are in the area. Other noteworthy villas are located on the same street and nearby.

NOTE: You are not allowed to take photos of the interior of the villa. Photography is only permitted outside at street level. I asked about the possibility to add pictures of the interior, but I would have to pay 2000 Kč (24 Kč equals 1 USD) in order to obtain permission. Therefore, I am afraid there will not be any dazzling photos with this post.

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CITY


A resident of Prague since 1991, Tracy A. Burns has published articles and stories in English, Czech and Slovak. Her work in English has appeared in The Washington Post, for instance. Her travel blog is at taburns25.wordpress.com. She also writes book reviews and essays for the Czech and Slovak academic journal Kosmas. Her writings in Czech have been published in Reflex and Listy, among others. Her articles in Slovak have been printed in SME, for example. She has edited an art catalogue for Prague's National Gallery and is a contributing author to the book The Arena Adventure, about Arena Stage theatre. Her passions are writing, reading and traveling.



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