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Hôtel Tassel (in French)
Hotel Tassel (in Dutch)
|Architectural style||Art Nouveau|
|Design and construction|
|Official name||Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)|
|Criteria||i, ii, iv|
|Designated||2000 (24th session)|
|Region||Europe and North America|
The Hôtel Tassel (French: Hôtel Tassel, Dutch: Hotel Tassel) is a townhouse built by Victor Horta in Brussels for the Belgian scientist and professor Emile Tassel in 1893–1894. It is generally considered as the first true Art Nouveau building, because of its highly innovative plan and its groundbreaking use of materials and decoration. Together with three other townhouses of Victor Horta, including Horta's own house and atelier, it was put on the 'UNESCO World Heritage List' in 2000. It is located at 6, Rue Paul-Emile Jansonstraat in Brussels.
The first townhouse built by Victor Horta was the Maison Autrique. This dwelling was already innovative for its application of a novel 'Art Nouveau' decorative scheme that didn't include references to other historical styles. However the floor plan and spatial composition of the Maison Autrique remained rather traditional. On the deep and narrow building plot the rooms were organised according to a traditional scheme used in most Belgian townhouses at the time. It had a suite of rooms on the left side of the building plot, flanked by a rather narrow entrance hall with stairs and a corridor that led to a small garden at the back. From the three-room suite, only the first and the last had windows and so the middle room, used mostly as a dining room, was rather gloomy.
At the Hôtel Tassel Horta definitively broke with this traditional scheme. In fact he built a house consisting of three different parts. Two rather conventional buildings in brick and natural stone — one on the side of the street and one on the side of the garden — were linked by a steel structure covered with glass. It functions as the connective part in the spatial composition of the house and contains staircases and landings that connect the different rooms and floors. Through the glass roof it functions as a light shaft that brings natural light into the centre of the building. In this part of the house, that could also be used for receiving guests, Horta made the maximum of his skills as an interior designer. He designed every single detail; doorhandles, woodwork, panels and windows in stained glass, mosaic flooring and the furnishing. Horta succeeded in integrating the lavish decoration without masking the general architectural structures.
The innovations made in the Hôtel Tassel would mark the style and approach for most of Horta's later townhouses, including the Hôtel van Eetvelde, the Hôtel Solvay and the architects own house and 'atelier'. These houses were expensive to construct and only affordable by the 'haute-bourgeoisie'. For this reason the pure architectural innovations were not largely followed by other architects. Most other Art Nouveau dwellings in Belgium and other European countries were inspired by Horta's 'whiplash' decorative style which is mostly applied to a more traditional building.
The Hôtel Tassel had a decisive influence on the French Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard who later developed a personal interpretation of Horta's example.
Hôtel Tassel is currently a private office.
Exterior Design and Facade
The exterior of the building, namely the facade is in itself an example of Art Nouveau. Victor Horta implemented a number of different stylistic changes that distinguished the building from others at the time. These changes however, all existed within the realm of the Art Nouveau style, and came from his selection of materials and the way that they all came together to form a building that exemplified the style as a whole. For example, the exterior of the building is designed to be smooth and have a sense of fluidity. Horta also diverged from typical architectural conventions by making the columns that dominate the front portion out of iron, as opposed to stone. These slender iron columns house a large bay window further Horta's stylistic goals by creating a sense of openness and lightness to the building. Exposed rivers and framing methods, such as large brackets around the doors and windows create a sense of unity within the architecture  The organic acanthus set against the riveted iron beams that house the windows display Horta's desire to fuse nature and industry.
The interior of the building is similarly notable as it features Horta's innovative open floor plan and use of natural light. Rooms in the townhouse were built around a central hall, which was at the time, fairly groundbreaking. Materials used on the inside are purposefully visible and conform to the Art Nouveau style by being modeled after organic forms. The whole interior retains a cohesive sense of fluidity thanks to Horta's insistence on designing all of the interior elements.
The UNESCO commission recognized the Hôtel Tassel as UNESCO World Heritage in 2000: ″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."
- "Major Townhouses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)". UNESCO. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
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