The Tugendhat House: Between Craftmanship and Technological Innovation. Preservation as Sustainable Building Policy


  • Ivo Hammer




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


The architecture of the Modern Movement is today often seen as synonymous with technical innovation and experimental techniques. This view is supported by the Dessau Bauhaus itself and its programmatic “break” with tradition. Technical inadequacies and shortcomings, particularly from the perspective of today’s energy standards, serve as an argument to formulate criteria specific for preserving the architecture of the Modern Movement, different from “normal” and more generally accepted preservation principles. Are the materials and techniques of modern architecture really as innovative as they are alleged? The Tugendhat House in Brno, listed as an UNESCO World Heritage since 2001, and other structures of classical modernism, as for example, the Bauhaus in Dessau (1925–26) and the pavilions of the Brno fair grounds (1926–28), may serve as evidence that not everything was technical innovation, but that rather the traditional craft techniques in the Modern Movement have played a major role. Modern preservation is not limited to the presentation of the artistic idea, but sees the monument as a comprehensive resource of cultural activities and their material expression. Generally, the preservation of monuments can be seen as a paradigmatic form of a sustainable building policy.

How to Cite

Hammer, I. (2011). The Tugendhat House: Between Craftmanship and Technological Innovation. Preservation as Sustainable Building Policy. Docomomo Journal, (44), 48–57.




Author Biography

Ivo Hammer

Born 18.05.1944 in Ulm. Training as conservator / restorer. Studied art history, archeology and philosophy in Freiburg / Br. and Vienna. PhD with a thesis on early bourgeois realism. 1976–1997 Chief conservator of the Austrian Federal Monument Office. From 1997–2008 Professor of restoration and conservation of wall paintings / architectural surface on the HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hildesheim. Focus: Beethoven frieze by Gustav Klimt (1902), the Romanesque wall paintings of Lambach (around 1080) and Salzburg / Nonnberg (around 1150), the façade of the fortress Hohensalzburg (15th/16th century), the cloister of St. Michael. Hildesheim (12th/13th century), the interior of St. Mary’s Church of Salzwedel (13th/14th century), examination of the Tugendhat House (1928–30) in Brno (since 2003), pavilions of the Brno fair grounds (1928). Numerous publications on MM architecture ( Chair of THICOM, the international experts committe for the restoration of the Tugendhat House, <ivo@hammer–>