The four town houses by Victor Horta form an essential relation from the classical tradition to the Modern Movement in the history of architecture, as conceived by one of the pioneers of Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau, in French, also known as Jugendstil in German and Modernismo in Spanish, was very popular in Europe at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterized by the use of new materials like iron, ceramics, glass, and the use of decorative forms and elements inspired by nature.
He revolutionized the architectural concepts of his time by introducing the idea of an open plan and creating real dialogue of materials and their uses according to their intrinsic nature within a new way of conceiving decoration.
The Horta buildings revive the 19th-century tradition of bourgeois residential buildings, combining residential and representational functions, which require a delicate organization of spaces and differentiated circulation.
Commissioned by Professor Emile Tassel in 1893, it was the first work in which Victor Horta was able to realize his original conception of architecture, with all the characteristic features that he developed in his other town houses.
The house was finished in 1894, but Horta continued designing the furniture for some years, as well as making some minor changes requested by the client. When completed, the Hotel Tassel raised diverse reactions, but it was soon considered a key building in the development of modern architecture. After World War II the house was split up into small flats so that little of the decoration remained visible.
It might be superfluous to mention that these houses were very expensive and only affordable for the rich ‘bourgeoisie’ with an ‘Avant-Garde’ taste. For this reason the pure architectural innovations were not largely followed by other architects. Victor Horta was born in Ghent and lived between 1861 and 1947.
He was one of the most prominent men in the Art Nouveau-movement, a new decorative style that developed in the late 19th century. Characteristics are for example the use of industrial materials like steel and iron in the visible parts of houses, new decorations inspired by nature, decorative façades of houses.
The Horta Museum was the Private house of Victor Horta, who gave free rein to its style. To be seen: the central stairs as central axe of the building, the decorative undulating motifs, plans pictures and models.
The Hotel Tassel can be considered the founding work of Art Nouveau. Commissioned by Professor Emile Tassel in 1893, it was the first work in which Horta was able to realize his original conception of architecture.
The house was finished in 1894, but Horta continued designing the furniture for some years. After the Second World War, the house was split into small flats so that little of the decoration remained visible. In 1976 the street facade and the main doors were restored and the building was adapted as prestige offices.
The street facade, built from stone, is remarkably integrated into its context. Above the entrance there is a two-storey bow window in an innovative steel structure. On the street site the building has the entrance floor, a mezzanine, first and second floor, and an attic.