Pond Quarter and Art Nouveau

Belgium, Brussels Guide (A): Pond Quarter and Art Nouveau

This tour is one in which l'Art Nouveau has pride of place. As you walk, you'll get to see the two architects Ernest Blerot and Ernest Delune compete for glory in over a dozen of their buildings. Take time as well to enjoy the two ponds, from which the quarter takes its name, which in summer time become makeshift beaches for the locals.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Pond Quarter and Art Nouveau
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: 6 Rue du Lac - Delune   Rue de la Vallée - Delune   40 Rue de la Vallee and corner of Rue Vilain XIV - Delune and Blerot   7, 9, 11 Rue Vilain XIV - Blerot and Tilley   Residence Belle-Vue - Jasinski   Le Tonneau - Collin and Jasinski   18, 19 and 28, 29, 30 Avenue des Klauwaerts - Moenaert   16, 17 and 11 Avenue des Klauwaerts - Blerot   Avenue Guillaume Macau   38, 39 Avenue General de Gaulle - Blerot   La Cascade - Ajoux   27, 27a, 27b, 27c Avenue General de Gaulle - Ernest Delune   Residence du Lac - Cook   Place Flagey - Diongre  
Author: Daniel Giles
Author Bio: I am Daniel, a teacher, tour guide, writer and traveler from California, USA. Through teaching I've been lucky enough to live in Italy, Spain, and Japan, as well as visit many other exciting countries. I always enjoy being where I am, but it seems that I also love the next adventure.
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6 Rue du Lac - Delune

1) 6 Rue du Lac - Delune

The house and studio, built in 1902 by the glass artist Ernest Delune, is one of his most seductive works and is considered his most significant architectural achievement. Its asymmetrical facade, including a large bow window, is punctuated by a beautiful circular entrance highlighted with floral motifs. The window to the right, also with floral patterns, suggests the stairwell looming behind. Try to imagine this building 100 years ago; with the colors of the doors and window frames a significantly brighter green. Even though time has taken its toll on the building, it is still quite an amazing sight to see.
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Rue de la Vallée - Delune

2) Rue de la Vallée - Delune

Most of the houses on Rue de la Vallée bear the signature of the architect Ernest Delune. Each of his houses is different in a number of ways; the distinct geometric patterns, a variety of styles of doors and windows, balconies, and distinctive decorative motifs. Take a look at No. 2, on the corner of Avenue General de Gaulle, with its large stained glass window with floral patterns (similar to that of no. 6 Rue du Lac). Also, notice the glass half-moon window, above the entrance to no. 32, and the various wrought iron balconies which are typical of l’Art Nouveau.
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40 Rue de la Vallee and corner of Rue Vilain XIV - Delune and Blerot

3) 40 Rue de la Vallee and corner of Rue Vilain XIV - Delune and Blerot

The verticality of this amazing house by Blerot is accentuated by a projecting two-story bay window. Finished with white glazed brick, the facade is punctuated by bands of blue and gray stone.

Admire the play of shape and color of the facade over three successive floors, and the floral motifs decorating the ironwork.

At the crossroads of Rue de la Vallee and Rue Vilain XIV, you will find two very similar buildings. One is by the architect Ernest Delune (17a Rue Vilain XIV, 1905). Look at its beautiful entrance. The second, on the opposite corner (31 Rue de la Vallee - 22 Rue Vilain XIV), was the first building constructed in 1901 by Ernest Blerot.
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7, 9, 11 Rue Vilain XIV - Blerot and Tilley

4) 7, 9, 11 Rue Vilain XIV - Blerot and Tilley

The two adjoining houses by Blerot (9 & 11) are a unique sight to see. The front entrance of No. 11 is based on an exuberant entanglement of vine and stone seen in both windows on the ground floor. No. 9 is heavily loaded with ironwork and sgraffito or “scratched” surfaces.

What is sgraffito? Sgraffito is a technique of mural decoration dating back to antiquity, rediscovered in Belgium at the end of the nineteenth century. The wall is made of colored mortar, scratched when wet, as to reveal the underlying materials and thus create a type of drawing in layers.

The elegant building at No. 7 rue Vilain XIV, was both a house and personal office used by the architect Franz Tilley until his accidental death in 1929 (run-over by a tram). Notice the classic, if not spectacular bay window that runs the full width the façade. With the exception of the ground floor, the entire front surface is covered with a coating which imitates stone.
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Residence Belle-Vue - Jasinski

5) Residence Belle-Vue - Jasinski

"A splendid setting, quality design, excellent craftsmanship" is how a journalist first described this work of the architect Stanislas Jasinski

in 1937. This corner building has seven apartments of 200 square meters, one per floor, each enjoying a pleasant view of the ponds and les Jardins du Roi or "the Gardens of the King". The large reception rooms are situated at the front of the building, the back being reserved for the kitchen, pantry and servants' rooms. The facade is covered with white stone over a reinforced concrete frame. The large windows provide plenty of natural light throughout the apartment.
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Le Tonneau - Collin and Jasinski

6) Le Tonneau - Collin and Jasinski

This modernist building is the result of collaboration between the architects Jean-Florian Collin and Stanislas Jasinski. Collin is known as the founder of the company Etrimo, while Jasinski is well-known as the architect of many Brussels apartments from the 1930s. This building’s facade, covered with pink cement, is accented by the contrast between the bays of horizontal and vertical windows that run over the entrance. These very luxurious apartments were intended for wealthy clientele when they were first built, but now house more of the middle class. A recent restoration of the metalwork on the exterior of the building gave this building some of its original shine.
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18, 19 and 28, 29, 30 Avenue des Klauwaerts - Moenaert

7) 18, 19 and 28, 29, 30 Avenue des Klauwaerts - Moenaert

In line with the geometric Art Nouveau as well as Rationalism, in building these houses, Moenaert brought the Vienna Secession to Brussels. The straight lines and delicate geometry of the facade indicate the influences of the Viennese architect. The large windows that make up most of the front of the building let in a nice amount of natural light and allow a spectacular view of the ponds.

What was the Viennese Secession? The Viennese Secession was a flow of Art Nouveau, led by the painter Gustav Klimt and architects Joseph Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann, which came from in Austria in 1897. The icon of the Viennese Secession in Brussels is the Palais Stoclet, designed by Josef Hoffmann (1905-1912).
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16, 17 and 11 Avenue des Klauwaerts - Blerot

8) 16, 17 and 11 Avenue des Klauwaerts - Blerot

At no. 16 and 17 we again see the work of Ernest Blerot. He designed two perfectly symmetrical twin houses, easily recognizable by their doors and wrought iron railings with wide leaves. Notice the door handle of the garage, which follows the line of decorative ironwork. While no. 17 has fallen into slight disrepair, it is nice to see that some work is being done to restore this building to its former glory.

The former home of writer and archivist of Brussels, Guillaume Des Marez, the building at no. 11 is an elegant example of the neo-Renaissance style. This home appears very refined, in part due to a portico brick entrance and mezzanine of detached white stone.
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Avenue Guillaume Macau

9) Avenue Guillaume Macau

First built in 1873, Avenue Guillaume Macau has changed little since the beginning of the twentieth century. The avenue is lined with fancy hotels and the former Hospice Van Aa appears at the end of the street (Louis Antoine Spaak, 1865). At the corner of avenues Macau and Eperons d'Or, the neo-Renaissance communal school (Delbove Leopold, 1877-1883) accommodated 900 students. On the other side of the avenue, two buildings (nos. 3 and 5) also draw our attention. The buildings, built in 1907, were designed by Edmund Delune (the brother of Ernest), who lived in both of them. The geometry of l’Art Nouveau is apparent. Another series of houses was built here by the architect Joseph Caluwaers (n. 4 to 14). One of them is decorated with sgraffito and bears the mark of Adolphe Crespin. Don’t miss no. 35 which is a nice example of Flemish neo-Renaissance, and the house next door (no. 33) signed by Ernest Delune
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38, 39 Avenue General de Gaulle - Blerot

10) 38, 39 Avenue General de Gaulle - Blerot

These twin houses, at the same time similar and different, perfectly express the idea that is “l’Art Nouveau”. The arabesque wrought-iron railings and the floral mosaic in the pavement are typical of Blerot. As are the houses of Rue Vilain XIV, one of these two houses is topped with a gable.

Blerot’s working method made his houses accessible to the middle class (by way of controlling cost) and made the architect even more admired.

He generally designed a different façade for each house and each element of the interior was personalized. As a businessman, he kept some of the houses he built under his ownership and transformed a few houses into apartments in order to lease them.
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La Cascade - Ajoux

11) La Cascade - Ajoux

Originally given the former name of the avenue, this modernist building by Rene Ajoux offers a striking contrast compared to the neighboring houses by Blerot.

The front has very marked horizontality, and is coated with beige ceramic sandstone. In one of its brochures, Ajoux confided to his readers:

"The pursuit of beautiful, sustainable, architectural and decorative art will always be my only goal. The softness in shape, comfort and harmony of color are always the most important elements."

Indeed, one look at these apartments is all that you need to understand Ajoux achieved his goal of creating architectural art.
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27, 27a, 27b, 27c Avenue General de Gaulle - Ernest Delune

12) 27, 27a, 27b, 27c Avenue General de Gaulle - Ernest Delune

Take a quick glance at these three houses by Ernest Delune, announcing his houses around the corner on the Rue de la Vallee. Built in 1899, these four houses seem to have come before their time. While all four houses are truly spectacular, the corner house has the most detail. Several balconies and lines of grey stone decorate the façade. Notice the large stained glass window of the corner house within an arched window frame and decorated with floral motifs. Again, due to the large number of windows, the residents of these houses have ample natural light, and a nice view of the pond.
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Residence du Lac - Cook

13) Residence du Lac - Cook

This curved building, built at the request of real estate developer Broen, is one of the best works of the architect James Cook, who specialized in building apartments for the middle class.

The apartments were sold clé sur porte, literally translated "key on the door". What this means is that the apartments were ready to be moved into, with very little or no extra work needed. Several floor-plans were included, with two or three bedrooms to fully satisfy the needs of different sized families.

Look at the various entrance halls of the building and notice that one of them is a little different. Can you tell which one?
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Place Flagey - Diongre

14) Place Flagey - Diongre

The construction of the National Institute of Broadcasting (INR) started in 1935, following a 1933 design competition, which was won by the architect Joseph Diongre. The building opened in 1938 and quickly gained notoriety due to the acoustic quality of its studios and its great simplicity. The facades, whose horizontal nature is accented by long windows that surround the entire building, are striking. The rounded corner of the building is enhanced by the presence of the tower. Diongre also designed the interior fittings and furniture. Recently restored by architect Philippe Samyn, the building has become a bit of a cultural center since 2002 under its new name, "Flagey".

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