Mies van der Rohe House Lemke, Berlin

It was a cool autumnal day when I toured the Mies van der Rohe House Lemke and its courtyard garden. On the banks of Obersee, about 10km north-east from the city centre, the brick house was completed in 1933, whilst Mies was director of the Bauhaus, for a couple, Karl and Martha Lemke and their small family. They lived there until 1945 when the Soviet army gained control of east Germany and they were forced to leave their home.

The house fell into disrepair over the years and then in 1977 it was put under state protection but it was not until 2000 that extensive renovations began in earnest, a lot of the brickwork around the windows and the corner facades had to be replaced.

The house is a simple L-shape single storey courtyard house with a very uncomplicated floorplan. It demonstrates the many design ideas we know to be typical of Mies’ buildings, unfussy fenestration and facade treatments and detailed to make the most of the materials.

The house wraps around a tree in the courtyard which opens out from the living spaces. The house provides views into the garden and a view down to the lake from the main bedroom. The simplicity in the materiality and detailing creates a serene residence sitting within a still and lush suburban garden.

At the time of my visit was an exhibition titled Dekor und Deformation showing the work of glass sculptor, Julius Weiland. The minimalism of the glass pieces was in harmony with the architecture of the house.