Maison du Peuple

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Maison du Peuple (in French)
Volkshuis (in Dutch)
Maison du Peuple of the P.O.B. (Belgian Workers Party) (destroyed, Brussels), exterior 3 (cropped).jpg
View of the Maison du Peuple/Volkshuis in the late 19th century or early 20th century
Alternative namesPeople’s Home
People’s House
General information
StatusDemolished
TypePolitical headquarters premises
Architectural styleArt Nouveau
LocationCity of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′28″N 4°21′09″E / 50.84111°N 4.3525°E / 50.84111; 4.3525Coordinates: 50°50′28″N 4°21′09″E / 50.84111°N 4.3525°E / 50.84111; 4.3525
Named forWorkers (Belgian Workers' Party)
Completed1899
Demolished1965
Technical details
MaterialWhite cast iron
Design and construction
ArchitectVictor Horta

The Maison du Peuple (in French) or Volkshuis (in Dutch), both literally translated as The People’s Home or The People’s House, was a public building located on Emile Vandervelde Square, near the Sablon/Zavel, in Brussels (Belgium). It was one of the most influential Art Nouveau buildings in Belgium and one of the most notable designs by Belgian architect Victor Horta.[1][2] Commissioned by the Belgian Workers' Party,[1] it was constructed between 1896 and 1899, and opened on 2 April 1899.[3]

The building was demolished in 1965, and a skyscraper was built on its site.[2] Its demolition has been regarded as an "architectural crime" and an example of "Brusselization".[2][3]

Building[edit]

Victor Horta was commissioned by the Belgian Workers' Party to build a grandiose people's house on Emile Vandervelde Square in central Brussels. He was assisted for this project by Richard Pringiers, who was to become the appointed architect of the party.

Victor Horta, the architect of the Maison du Peuple/Volkshuis

In spite of a rather restrictive and irregular plot, along a circular square and on a slope, Horta succeeded to construct a 4-storey building with maximum functionality. It provided space for all kinds of socio-economic facilities; the ground floor was made of shops and a café-restaurant; the first floor included the Party's offices and meeting rooms, as well as a library; the second and third floors welcomed various multi-purpose rooms; and the fourth floor was home to a large auditorium and concert hall seating over 2,000 people.[4][5]

Unlike Horta's houses, decoration was kept to a minimum, as it was a purely functional building, mainly constructed in white cast iron (more than 600,000 kg [1,300,000 lb]) with curtain walls. Fifteen craftsmen worked for eighteen months on the ironwork. The only strikingly recognisable Art Nouveau features of the facade were the balustrades with curling lines, as well as a slight curving of the steel pillars supporting the roof. On the roof, the building was decorated with signs bearing the names of people who contributed to the socialist cause, such as Karl Marx and Leon Blum. As with Horta's houses, however, the building was designed to make a maximum use of light, with large skylights over the main meeting room. To make this construction possible, Horta drew no less than 8,500 m2 (91,000 sq ft) of plans.

The building was completed in 1899 and was inaugurated in the presence of the French socialist leader Jean Jaurès.[3][4][5] Because of the experimental combination of brick, glass, and steel, it was considered as a masterwork of modern architecture.

Demolition[edit]

In spite of an international protest movement of over 700 architects, the building was demolished in 1965.[3][4][5] It was dismantled entirely with the idea of rebuilding it elsewhere. However, its components were scattered in vacant lots around Brussels, and it was never reconstructed. Later, structural parts of the building were used in the Horta Grand Café in Antwerp and some of the original pieces can still be found in the Horta premetro station in Saint-Gilles.[3]

The loss of the Maison du Peuple was part of the trend of Brusselization, where many historic buildings were torn down and replaced by skyscrapers. The Maison du Peuple itself was replaced by a 26-floor office building, the Blaton Tower, built the year immediately after the Maison du Peuple's demolition.[3]

Blaton Tower on the spot where the Maison du Peuple/Volkshuis stood until its demolition in 1965

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thake, Conrad (2011). "A PROJECT FOR A 'CENTRO D'ITALIANITÀ' IN MALTA". Malta Historical Society. Melita Historica. XV (4): 434–436. ISSN 1021-6952. OCLC 472457132. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Art Nouveau Architecture Picture Tour: Maison du Peuple
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Disappearance of the Maison du Peuple or the assassination of Victor Horta". Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  4. ^ a b c "eBru | La Maison du Peuple | Victor Horta | Art nouveau | Bruxelles". www.ebru.be. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  5. ^ a b c "Victor Horta Most Important Art | TheArtStory". The Art Story. Retrieved 2018-08-19.

External links[edit]