the four major town houses – hôtel tassel, hôtel solvay, hôtel van eetvelde, and maison & atelier horta – designed by the architect victor horta, one of the earliest initiators of art nouveau, are some of the most remarkable pioneering works of architecture of the end of the 19th century. these four beautiful buildings have found their way to the unesco heritage list in the year 2000, and therefore they have found their place on my list-of-unesco-sites-to-see.
art nouveau appeared in the closing years of the 19th century and initiated an evolution of architecture, making possible following developments, and the town houses of victor horta witness to this transition from the 19th to the 20th centuries in art, thought and society.
the hotel we we’re staying at was quite close to one of houses of victor horta, so we decided to take a look at it.
this is hôtel solvay; it was initially commissioned by armand solvay, the son of the wealthy belgian chemist and industrialist, and therefore victor horta was allowed to spend a fortune on expensive materials and details. it is known that horta designed every single detail; furniture, carpets, tableware and even the door bell. also, he used expensive materials such as marble, onyx, bronze, tropic woods, etc.
the house is still private property and since it can only be visited by appointment, we took several photos and then decided to search for maison & atelier horta, architect’s former house and now a museum.
the maison & atelier horta have been designed to satisfy the professional and family needs of the architect, and were built in 1898-1901. the maison is in a fashionable district of brussels, sant-gilles, where one may find other examples of art nouveu style. for that reason (and also due to the long queue in front of horta’s house), we decided not to go in, but to enjoy lovely spring day in gorgeous sant-gilles.
while taking a walk in the area, we came across one of the most beautiful buildings and examples of art nouveau in sant-gilles, hôtel hanon. even if not on the unesco heritage list, in my view, it is as good as, and therefore it should not be treated differently.
ps. all the photos were taken by me (may 2013).