Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Switzerland as we visited the Abbey of Saint Gall.

Today we’re headed from WesternCentral Europe into true Western Europe, specifically Belgium, as we check out the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)!

Hôtel Tassel

The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta – Hotel Tassel (1893), Hotel Solvay (1894), Hotel van Eetvelde (1895) and the House and Workshop of Victor Horta – located in Brussels, are outstanding examples of Art Nouveau. These 4 houses, that bear testimony to the immense talent of this Belgian architect, achieve a remarkable sense of unity with meticulous attention to the smallest detail of the building, from the door handle or bell to the least piece of furniture.

Horta, one of the earliest instigators, heralded the modern movement of Art Nouveau architecture. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterized by their open plan, diffusion and transformation of light throughout the construction, the creation of a decor that brilliantly illustrates the curved lines of decoration embracing the structure of the building, the use of new materials (steel and glass) and the introduction of modern technical utilities.

Through the rational use of the metallic structures, often visible or subtly dissimulated, Victor Horta conceived flexible, light and airy living areas, directly adapted to the personality of their inhabitants.

The principle of a double house connected by a glass-covered circulation area is adopted for the Hotel Tassel and the Hotel van Eetvelde. This area, that generally contains a winter garden, is enchantingly represented at the Hotel Solvay, the most ambitious and spectacular work of Horta in the Art Nouveau period.

The staircase of its house-workshop is decorated and enjoys this type of particularly elegant arrangement. The interior decors benefited from surprising inventiveness, with the motifs flowing smoothly from the mosaic floor to the painted walls, including the wrought iron work and the custom furniture.

These 4 houses revived the tradition of the Bourgeois houses and private mansions of the 19th Century, combining residential and representational functions which require a subtle organization of spaces and differentiated circulation. Revisited by the creative genius of Victor Horta, each one of them represents the personality of their owners and forms a coherent ensemble that illustrates the willingness to treat the architecture and decoration as a whole.

How This Relates to Rome:

The name Belgium is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th Century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings.

Before we leave you today, we be remiss if we failed to wish Mrs. Carolyn Norris (aka my mother) a very Happy Birthday. We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, and we hope you check us out again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!