Brussels

Inside Art nouveau

Private house owned by architect Paul Hankar

Rue Defacqz 71, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium

Façade (photo ca 1900), L'émulation, 1895, pl. 14.

Façade (photo ca 1900), L'émulation, 1895, pl. 14.

Interior plan (photo ca 1900), Neubauten in Brüssel, 1900, pl.22.

Interior plan (photo ca 1900), Neubauten in Brüssel, 1900, pl.22.

Consoles supporting the oriel window, ground floor, façade (photo ca 1990), photo Bastin-Evrard ©urban.brussels. All rights reserved.

Consoles supporting the oriel window, ground floor, façade (photo ca 1990), photo Bastin-Evrard ©urban.brussels. All rights reserved.

Façade (photo ca 1900), L'émulation, 1895, pl. 14.

Façade (photo ca 1900), L'émulation, 1895, pl. 14.

Interior plan (photo ca 1900), Neubauten in Brüssel, 1900, pl.22.

Interior plan (photo ca 1900), Neubauten in Brüssel, 1900, pl.22.

Consoles supporting the oriel window, ground floor, façade (photo ca 1990), photo Bastin-Evrard ©urban.brussels. All rights reserved.

Consoles supporting the oriel window, ground floor, façade (photo ca 1990), photo Bastin-Evrard ©urban.brussels. All rights reserved.

Private house owned by architect Paul Hankar

This remarkable house, designed by Paul Hankar, is located on the same street as the Ciamberlani mansion, in the heart of a district of Brussels containing a number of Art Nouveau masterpieces. These include the Solvay mansion, the Tassel mansion, the Otlet mansion and the Van Rysselberghe house. Hankar’s home revolutionised the architectural concepts of the period, and is considered to constitute a true manifesto of the Art Nouveau style.

FACADE

One of the most striking characteristics of this façade is without doubt its polychrome effects. These result from the use of several materials: red brick, blue stone, Gobertange stone and pink puddingstone, as well as from numerous colourful sgraffiti decorations.

Hankar did not hesitate to use metal in this building; it serves as an exposed supporting element for the bow windows and the cornice, and as a decorative element for the balcony balustrade. It is likewise used for two wrought iron columns supporting the overhanging cornice.

The Japanese-inspired sgraffiti decorations were created by Adolphe Crespin. A stylised Art Nouveau cartouche above the right-hand window mentions the year of construction, placed among decorative hydrangeas. The sgraffiti images on the bow windows, combined with ironwork, depict cats with decorative climbing nasturtiums. Finally, below the cornice, four small sgraffiti decorations set under arches symbolise the different times of the day.

INTERIOR

The interior layout of the house features the series of adjoining rooms that was the traditional arrangement for 19th century houses in Brussels. However, Hankar paid particular attention to all the details, especially those of the woodwork. The ceilings are Japanese-inspired and geometric in style, and the staircase has the Art Nouveau bannisters typical of his work. The wall coverings have unfortunately been lost over time, but the floor mosaics, whose tesserae are larger than those normally seen, are still intact.

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