Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe – Who, What, Why and How

Topics: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Modernism, Bauhaus Pages: 5 (1650 words) Published: November 14, 2012
This essay will investigate the influences and theories upon which Ludwig Mies van der Rohe based his architecture. It will attempt to identify the type of designer Mies was and to what result this influences architecture today. “Less is more” and “God is in the details”

These aphorisms are often associated with Mies by studying the architecture and the theories which Mies produced along with writing and research from other authors and architects I hope to understand more about what Mies meant by these. The essay will be structured in a linear fashion following the set headings and concluding at the end, the sections will identify the: type of designer Mies was, his influences, the architecture he produced and how he remains to influence architecture of today. Who is Mies

Mies was an Architect at the dawn of modernism, classed in the same rank as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. Modernist architects retained an underlying constant belief in the power of form to transform the world, through modern architecture's sleek machined surfaces and structural rationalism, architects passionately believed that housing and other social problems could be solved. (Ghirado p9) Mies declared himself against formalism and aesthetic speculation, writing ‘Architecture is the will of the age conceived in spatial terms. Living, changing, new’ at the same time he went on to declare ‘the office building is a house of work... of organization, of clarity, of economy, bright, wide, workrooms, easy to oversee. He stated the primary property of architecture should be ‘maximum effect with the minimum expenditure of means’, he claimed that the materials which would enable this style of architecture were ‘concrete, iron and glass.’ (Frampton. p.163) As Mies’s style of architecture matured through the theme of modernism it became chilled, minimalist, which resulted in little more than buildings of steel and glass. (Watkin. P.648) What are van der Rohes Influences

Looking at the career of Mies we can see the various influences that he carried throughout. The styles he inherited from his craft training, the influences from other architects of the period and from history also. We see the way he revives architectural themes and manipulates them to create a source for new ideas and theories of what architecture should be. Mies was once the director of the Bauhaus school, remaining so until its closure. In 1954, Mies looked back at his time at the Bauhaus and its mission then came to the conclusion that: 'The Bauhaus was not an institution with a clear programme - it was an idea.' It was an idea which combined the objective values of standardization and technology with the humanism of craft production. (Sparke.p163) This idea of standardization which Mies conceived from the resulting efforts of the Bauhaus had animated the Modern Movement with a vengeance towards designing buildings, and by the mid-1960s a backlash began to form. ‘The task of repeating steel frames and curtain walls turned out to be not terribly taxing, and even less demanding of creativity.’ (Ghirado.p.12) When the construction industry started using ‘modern’ materials and methods such as steel frame structures and curtain wall systems on a wider more commercial scale, Mies saw opportunity to take advantage of the fact. Mies developed a personal ideal which is known as ‘Mies van der Rohe’s ideal of beinahe nichts’ or ‘almost nothing’ in English, this ideal seeks to reduce the building task to the status of industrial design, coherent with the prevailing modes of production and consumption. (Frampton. p.10) Mies work seemed to take various influences, two of which are the berlage brick tradition and the dictum that ‘nothing should be built that is not clearly constructed’ and Kasimir Maalevich’s suprematism. Suprematism was an art movement, focused on basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colors. It was...
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