Affectionately named ‘the father of Art Nouveau in Brussels,’ Victor Horta is one of the Art Nouveau movement’s main architects. It’s no wonder, then, why a visit to his home-turned-museum would be the ideal starting point for a relaxed walking tour focusing on this fil rouge. Observe how this innovative space was developed with extreme attention to detail. From the ground floor to the attic, this building offers a better understanding of the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 2pm-5:30pm
Musée Victor Horta, Rue Américaine 22, 1060 Brussels, Belgium +32 2 543 04 09
North, towards Port de Hal, there is an out-of-the-ordinary Art Nouveau example, but this time it is underground. Maybe the frequent or occasional public transport riders would have already noticed it, but the Horta Premetro Station hides surprising examples of Art Nouveau. At this particular metro station, you will find stained-glass windows of the Hôtel Aubecq and balustrades from Maison du Peuple (demolished in 1965), incredible remnants to see — just tilt your head up.
Art Nouveau and Deco architecture is impressive due to the variety of forms and functions they take. This is particularly true in Saint-Gilles, where an entire public swimming pool launched in 1905 was completely remodeled in Art Deco style between 1938 – 1940. This spacious building also hosts a cafeteria which faces the swimming pool, creating an unexpected spot to take a refreshing break.
Opening Hours: Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri, 8am – 7pm | Wed, 2pm – 7pm | Sat, 9am – 12pm & 1pm – 6pm
A few minutes from the Barriére area and its beautiful sights sits one of the rarest Art Nouveau ensembles architecturaux — 14 buildings which date back to the beginning of the 20th century (1900-1902) and were partially renovated in 2004, with different façades and bundles of used materials, signed by le maître de l’unité dans la diversité: Ernest Blérot. Of course, you will find other examples of these Art Nouveau conglomerates signed by the same master in other areas, but only in rue Vanderschrick will you find such a high concentration of buildings that are still well preserved. Although the richness and decorative element on each façade, each distinct home matches in a harmonious way. Experience a walk within this fin de siècle atmosphere!
Maison Hoguet, situated on rue de Rome 24-28, is another clear example of Art Deco architecture, designed by Jean Ligo. Formerly tailoring atelier workplaces and Hoguet family’s home back in 1928, in 1970 the building was left to the Commune de Saint-Gilles under the condition it would be used for cultural purposes. From tailoring atelier to Académie de Musique, Maison Hoguet is currently the hosting space of La Maison du Livre, an association and bibliotheque, celebrating the passion of the Saint-Gilloises for the lecture publique.
As the ideal way to finish this tour, take a peek at one of the houses down rue Defacqz, close to Avenue Louise. Although half is in Saint-Gilles and the other in the municipality of Ixelles, this street offers numerous examples of the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels by the great architect Paul Hankar. In Ixelles, number 48, you will find La Maison Ciamberlani (1897) built at the request of painter Ciamberlani, and number 50, the Hôtel Janssens. On the Saint-Gilles side, you may admire the Maison Hankar and its astonishing sgraffitis at house number 71. This street is definitely a fantastic place to admire the intricacy and sinuosity of the lines and the pure expression of whims and fantasy signed by and Art Nouveau master.
By Camilla Colavolpe