Major Town Houses of 
the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels) (2000)
Belgium

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The four major town houses - Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta - located in Brussels and 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. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterised by their open plan, the diffusion of light, and the brilliant joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure of the building. 

Art Nouveau first appeared in Belgium in the work of the architect Victor Horta; his designs for townhouses featured elegantly twining wrought-iron staircases, balconies, and gates. It was also fashionable in interior décor, notably at Maxim's Restaurant in Paris.  

Belgium 1962. World Cultural Heritage. Victor Horta Museum, Brussels, Belgium.

Belgium 1997. World Cultural Heritage. Souvenir sheet from the Victor Horta Museum, Brussels, Belgium.

Baron Victor Horta (1861-1947), was a Belgian architect, one of the pioneers and leading practitioners of art nouveau architecture. He abandoned the neoclassical style of his schooling in favor of an innovative art nouveau approach that emphasized irregular shapes and lush curved lines. His first major work, Hôtel Tassel (1892-1893), in Brussels, set forth his principal themes: exposed cast iron as a structural material; a centralized floor plan in place of the traditional corridor arrangement; and close attention to ornamentation. 

One of his notable buildings is the Maison Waucquez, formerly a department store, now transformed into the Belgian Comic Museum, which houses a collection of the comic strip "Tintin", designed by Hergé. 

Belgium 1994. Bank note of 2000 Belgian Francs, carrying Victor Horta's portrait and signature on the right side of his face. Pick #151.

Horta supervised the interior decoration -- even the furniture design -- of all his buildings, and his characteristic flowing “whiplash lines,” inspired by vegetation motifs, were prominent in his wall decorations, doors, and staircases, as exemplified in his most lavish private house, Hôtel Solvay (1894), in Brussels. 

In public buildings such as the Maison du Peuple (1899, destroyed 1964), the Brussels headquarters of the Belgian Socialist party, he produced glass and iron facades that were some of the most advanced of their day. He was an important European predecessor of the modern 20th-century International Style, particularly in his use of exposed structural ironwork and glass facades. 

Sources and links: 

 

Other World Heritage Sites in Belgium (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Belgium section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
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