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Early Mies Van Der Rohe Home May Be Rebuilt in Poland

Modernist Wolf House may be reborn, but not without its critics

Originally built in 1926 on the bank of the Neisse River in what was then Germany, the Erich Wolf House, a relatively early project by a young architect named Mies van der Rohe, was an initial step towards his later, iconic work. A brick house built with a flat roof— the first Mies would ever attempt—the home contained a set of four spacious living rooms, linked together at their corners to create a space virtually uninterrupted by connecting walls. That openness, and the home’s panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, made it a standout of Mies’s early career, the closest approximation to his unrealized Brick House design.

While the residence was destroyed during the Soviet advance on Berlin during WWII, it’s always been seen as an important step in the architect’s evolution. So it may be surprising that news that this important Modernist home may be getting rebuilt, thanks to the work of a group of German architects and preservationists, such as Florian Mausbach, a retired German planning to raise $2.25 million for the effort, has been met with a mixed response, according to The New York Times.

Those opposed to the reconstruction believe that it’s impossible to fully capture the original vision and design. Leo Schmidt, a professor of architecture at Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus, Germany, who had led an excavation of the Wolf House site in 2001, has started a petition, now signed by dozens of experts in historical preservation, rejecting the rebuilding project.

Schmidt and others believe that, unlike the successful Barcelona Pavilion project, accurately recreating the interior of the Wolf’s home would be impossible, considering the lack of details, and would create a false picture of Mies’s work. Reconstruction of buildings damaged during WWII also is a touchy subject in Germany.

"Rebuilding the Wolf House as an empty shell would not deepen our understanding of Mies," Schmidt told The Times.

· A Push to Rebuild a Modernist Gem by Mies [The New York Times]

· Construction Matters: How Advances in Brick, Steel, and Concrete Changed Architecture [Curbed]