Art Nouveau Walk : Hidden Gems in Brussels

‘If you happen to live in Belgium, you can’t escape the Art Nouveau architecture all around the cities, most of it in Brussels though.’

That opening is a repetition from my first article on Art Nouveau architecture in Belgium. We are blessed to be living in the EU quarter of Brussels, surrounded by wonderful Art Nouveau buildings from 1890-1910. We participated in an Art Nouveau walk on the occasion of World Art Nouveau Day, organised by Dorka Demeter and We Love Brussels. The purpose was to know each other in a group of AN enthusiasts on social media and find some hidden gems in the EU quarter. Presenting a few from the ones we spotted.

Palmerston Avenue 4 – Victor Horta (1895)

Victor Horta designed this famous house for Edmond Van Eetvelde in 1895. The house has four levels, designed symmetrically in riveted metal beams. The designs are subtly exquisite and the garden grill has interesting details. We haven’t been inside the house yet, but it has a stunning winter garden.

Palmerston Avenue 3 x Rue Boduognat 14 – Victor Horta (1896)

Dorka, our guide, shared an amazing story about this enormous house. Georges Deprez was the director of the crystal factories at Val Saint-Lambert. His wife Mrs Van De Velde liked the Hotel Van Eetvelde right across the street and they commissioned Victor Horta to design this house. Horta used his distinct style of waves and created this beauty. The façade has intricate blue stone carvings.

Rue Philippe le Bon 51, 53 – Edouard Elle (1902)

This set of twin houses, mirror images of each other were designed by Edouard Elle in 1902. In the last image, note the identical doors, stained glass windows, sgraffito and geometrical windows. I particularly liked the blue stone low arches over the doors. These are a delight to look at, number 53 has been recently renovated.

Rue Philippe le Bon 55 – Armand Van Waesberghe (1898)

My absolute favourite from the hidden gems in the EU quarter – this stunner of a house is designed by Armand Van Waesberghe in 1898. The alternate red and light bricks make a great contrast on the façade. The arched window looks amazing too with carved blue stone and red bricks. The sgraffito in red and golden present a girl’s face with flowing hair. The doors are Japanese panelled ones and the three gables on top make the house prettier, in my opinion.

Rue Philippe le Bon 70 – Victor Taelemans (1901)

This magnificent house was inspired from Hotel Otlet (by Octave Van Rhysselberghe and Henry Van de Velde). It might look plain from the outside but look at the Omega-shaped arch above the door! There is an amazing frieze on the top floor inspired by Japanese motifs in white and blue. I haven’t seen too many friezes in Brussels Art Nouveau buildings yet. This is definitely a very attractive one!

Rue Luther 28 x Rue Calvin 5 – Gustave Strauven (1902)

Not exactly a hidden gem, this was the personal house of Gustave Strauven, designed by him in 1902. It has a beautiful façade as seen on the left of the image. There are four levels to this house, the first level in the basement in on Rue Luther but the entrance and exit is on Rue Calvin, on the other side (right half of the image).

I loved the subtly intricate balconies, especially the arched one on the ground level. Our guide asked us to peer inside the basement window to the kitchen table to spot wax replicas of vegetables arranged neatly. The current owner has quirky tastes, apparently! Since the plot is narrow and there couldn’t be an open courtyard/garden, Strauven designed a closed and tiered terrace which is abundantly green for sore eyes now (right half of the image)!

Rue de l’Abdication 4 – Gustave Strauven (1904)

Another beauty by Gustave Strauven. The arched attic has red and white bricks and blue stone. The ironwork and frames are well preserved. Note the interesting framed windows on the left, that seems to be guarding a staircase.

Rue Charles Quint 103 – Paul Hamesse (1898)

This narrow building is the former studio of painter Arthur Rogiers. A fine example of geometric Art Nouveau architecture, the building seems to be re-painted and renovated recently. I loved the cellar window grill with intricate peacock feather motifs.

In 1902, the painter modified the workshop, according to unsigned plans, attributable to the famous architect Paul Hamesse. In 1908, the house-workshop had a new owner, painter and writer Jules Potvin, who added a toilet to the back of the first floor.

Rue Van Campenhout 51Gustave Strauven (1901)

This beautiful and intricate Art Nouveau house was designed by Gustave Strauven in 1901. Named Maison Kwachet, this one is a classical AN example with arched doors, stained glass panels, floral balconies and blue stone work.

As our guide Dorka explained, the bird motifs (most commonly parrots) in stained glass were quite common during the era. Work on this door below is exquisite.

Rue Van Campenhout 63 – Guillaume Löw (1900)

The house looks precisely designed, symmetrical and very serene with the white façade. It is the former personal house of architect Guillaume Löw in 1900. If you look closely, there are two feminine profiles in golden sgraffito flanking the geometrically perfect balcony. I was saddened to see the damaged sgraffito decorations though on the upper part of the house. I’m not sure if the current owners would care or manage to restore them someday. They are super precious in terms of history and heritage.

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