Renovation and restoration
Despite its troubled fate and the devastation after 19448, the Müller Villa has been saved during its lifetime from fundamental reconstructions or adaptations. Not only the original spatial apportionment but also the bulk of the original structure and applied materials, the majority of the fitted furnishings, and an extensive collection of the original technical infrastructure have all survived down to the present.
Initial surveys undertaken in 1997 became important sources for the structural conception of the renovation: a structural-historical survey (carried out by the Stet Institute for Monument Care and Karel Ksandr and his team), and a structural/architectural survey carried out by doc. ing. arch. Petr Urlich, CSc. and his team.
Beginning the preparations for the rehabilitation of the Müller Villa was also conditional on the detailed documentation of its surviving state. This deliberate photodocumentation recorded the state of the house and its interiors, gardens and immediate surroundings. Within the framework of the structural/architectural survey an detailed assessment of a collection of architectural, structural and technical elements was also conducted.
The exceptional level of preservation of the original layout predetermined the restoration concept with the maximum presentation of the unique spatial composition of the monument. This made it possible to include within tours not only the residential and social parts of the building, the kitchen and sanitary arrangements, but also a number of rooms forming the technical backdrop in the basement (boiler room, laundry, garage and cellars). The exceptional architectural and documentary value, together with the high degree of authenticity of the M¸ller Villa, were decisive in the selection of methods for the actual realisation, which was bound up with complex restoration activity.
The restoration of the exteriors
The restoration of a monument to Modern architecture brings with it a range of entirely specific problems stemming from the existence of then extant period technologies which are no longer commonly encountered, as gradual development led to their improvement or abandonment - clearly, sometimes there are also problems in technical parameters or an insufficient lifespan, recognised only after a long period.
In several cases it was therefore necessary to replace heavily damaged elements or to add missing components. Prior to restoration it was necessary to cover the entire building with protective roofing, and thus also protect original materials inside.
The original surface of natural poured asphalt remains on the balconies and terraces, which were restored. The main terrace and roof, however, were so badly damaged that it was necessary to reconstruct the hydroinsulation of the asphalt, and subsequently to renovate all the authentic details on the basis of an analysis of in situ finds, earlier photodocumentation etc.
The problem with the external plaster is related to poor quality interventions in the past. During the last repairs in 1976 an inappropriate, grey sprayed material was applied to all of the facades, and this had contributed to the more rapid overall degradation of the plaster layers. During renovations all such 'repairs' were removed down to the brick masonry. The foundation plaster layers and stucco were carefully reconstructed. It was possible to achieve a credible colour shade, and perfect reproduction of the surface working in the new stucco facing.
The garden was carefully reconstructed according to surviving drawings which also showed the planting scheme.
The renovation of the interiors
The new drama of Loos' architecture shown by the Müller Villa is exceptional in its unaffectedness. The house is the scene for elementary needs and the fulfilment of the basic conditions of life in simplicity and cleanliness.
Within the framework of preparations for restoration it was necessary to remove secondary overpainting and latex washes from all of the interiors. The careful washing down of the walls brought a range of hitherto unknown and surprising information regarding the original colours of the interiors. At the same time more precise information was also obtained regarding the original siting of furniture, light fittings, sockets and other elements. After documenting these finds and correcting the project design the original colour schemes of the interiors could be restored.
Space in the Müller Villa is resolved in terms of mass through the "Raumplan" composition, but the drama of both individual interiors and overall was created by the architect using colour. Loos' eternal need to dynamise space is based on the alternation of contrasting, vibrant colours in places where such effects are unexpected. The original technical systems within the house (heating, electrical installation, elevators) were renovated without major interventions into their original surfaces being needed.