7 Functionalist Gems in Brno

7 Functionalist Gems in Brno

The most important functionalistic site in Brno is Villa Tugendhat, registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

When Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, Brno, a city in South Moravia, became the second largest city in the new country and as such its political, economic and cultural ambitions were also reflected in housing development. Thus, Brno became one of the leading centres of functionalism in Central Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.

1. Villa Tugendhat

Villa Tugendhat is undoubtedly the pearl of (not only) Brno functionalism. The Villa is a unique functionalistic work by German architect Ludwig Miese van der Rohe and it is the only modern architecture monument in the Czech Republic registered on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. At the same time, it is a building that helped define the new parameters of modern living and is one of the basic works of world modern architecture functionalism. Reservations are highly recommended due to the large number of visitors.

2. Brno Fairgrounds

In the beginning of the 20th century, one of the most famous European fair grounds and functionalistic structural complexes of that time were built. The Brno Fairgrounds opened in 1928 with the Exhibition of Czechoslovak Contemporary Culture. After WWII, the activity was restored with engineering fairs that are organised to this day. The individual exhibition pavilions were designed by more than 30 authors. Today, the Fairgrounds are a venue for important international fairs and exhibitions, as well as shows, concerts and congresses.

3. Villa Stiassni

The L-shaped, two-storey functionalistic villa was designed by Ernst Wiesner and built for Alfred Stiassni and his wife Hermine. Later on, the villa and its garden were nationalised by the state for representative purposes, which is why it is sometimes called the “government villa”. Several prominent people have stayed in the villa, Fidel Castro included. The villa has been open to the public since 2014.

4. Era Café

The building of the Era Café in Černé Pole was built in the functionalistic style in the 1930s and it used to be a renowned meeting place for the Brno elite. The two-storey building with a front garden could accommodate 240 guests and it was used as a café until 1978. After several decades of dilapidation, the building was reconstructed and you can now enjoy a cup of coffee there again. The interior is dominated by a spiral staircase connecting two storeys of the café. The façade of the café is also interesting, resembling a poster.

5. Zeman Café

Originally, Zeman Café used to stand near the Janáček Theatre, but today you can find it in the centre of Brno, about 200 metres from its original location. The reason? The building of the café was demolished to allow for the construction of the Janáček Theatre. Today, you can visit the replica of the original café built in 1994. Since no photos of the original interior were preserved, contemporaries were asked to help. However, they did not always agree and so the interior was furnished with furniture from the 1920s and 1930s.

6. Avion Hotel

The first post-war hotel in Brno is no doubt a pivotal work of Czech functionalistic 1920s architecture. The hotel was built on a very narrow plot, only eight meters wide. The two bottom storeys were reserved for a café, the other seven storeys included 50 hotel rooms. There are large windows on the hotel façade and the rooms on the top floors offer beautiful views of Špilberk and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.

7. New House Estate

The New House Estate (Kolonie Nový Dům) is the true delicacy of functionalistic Brno. The residential complex of 16 functionalistic family homes was built as a sample project of modern housing within the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture in Brno. At present, only some houses are protected monuments (Fuchs, Grunt and Starý). A lot of the houses have been reconstructed or have deteriorated.