Modernism in Krefeld
Residences of Hermann Lange
and Josef Esters

Haus Lange and Haus Esters, 1927–1930

The villa ensemble known today as the Haus Lange Haus Esters museum group was commissioned in 1927 by Hermann Lange (1874 – 1942) and Josef Esters (1886 – 1969). Mies complete the private residential houses in the spring of 1930, and these were to be home not only for the families of the clients but also, in the case of Hermann Lange, for his comprehensive collection of contemporary art.

Hermann Lange was responsible for choosing the architect. Mies and Lange had most likely first met each other in the context of the German avant-garde art scene and through Deutscher Werkbund.

The first designs were submitted in the summer of 1927. They follow up on the concept of the recently completed Haus Wolf in Guben. While Mies was only partially able to realise his idea of an open, flowing floor-plan in the houses in Krefeld due to size restrictions, the ceiling-high windows in Haus Lange nevertheless represent a further development of the concept, which finally came to full fruition with the glass facade in Haus Tugendhat. All windows facing the south are formed as continuous glass units that, apart from a low sill height, can be lowered completely into the ground. This temporarily suspends the division between interior and exterior space.

The design assignment for the architects included the concept for all utility areas (kitchen, darkroom, bathrooms), as well as, in the case of Haus Esters, the layout of the garden. The concept was probably taken over and adopted for Haus Lange and augmented by a conservatory.

Fitted furniture items are a dominant feature of the interiors of both houses. All shelves and cabinets from the kitchen to the lady’s private salon are partially or fully fitted into the wall so that the harmonious flow of the surface is not disturbed.

In the dining-room furnishings for the two houses, Mies repeats a chair design and type of table that he had already used in Haus Wolf and in his own apartment in Berlin.

For the lady’s private salon in Haus Lange, Mies developed a furnishing combination of desk, sofa, tea table and shelf.

Furniture designs for the halls of the houses made by Mies in collaboration with his partner Lilly Reich in 1930 were ultimately not realised.

Haus Lange has been used as a museum for contemporary art since 1955. In 1968 it was donated to the cultural heritage of the city of Krefeld, followed by Haus Esters in 1978. Both houses are today part of Kunstmuseen Krefeld.

Christiane Lange, 2011

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