This dynamic brings about a true renaissance of modern architecture. The conceptions of the architects of the inter-war period, until now confined in the closed circle of the avant-garde, take centre stage and transform the city.
Opening of the Delhaize supermarket on Rue de l’Escadron in Etterbeek, 29 September 1960 (Delhaize Group Archives).
The modern movement only truly gets a foothold in Belgium at the end of the 1930s. After the Second World War, it is accompanied by a significant renewal: purely functionalist precepts give way to a desire to soften and humanise. New trends appear that present architecture which is on a human level.
Rue Auguste Vermeylen 58-60, Evere, architect Gaston Brunfaut, 1957.
Former Fiat showroom, Chaussée de Gand 294, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, architect Jean-Pierre Van Den Houte, 1962.
Fallon Stadium, Chemin du Struykbeken, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Isobelec company, ca. 1960 (company’s advertising brochure).
Rue Dieudonné Lefèvre 1, Brussels-Laeken, architect Georges De Hens and engineer R. Rooryck, 1958.
At the end of the decade, the trend is reversed and modernity becomes omnipresent. The mirage of the American city takes possession of minds and creates a genuine building frenzy. Modern architecture will eventually amass easy successes and itself give way to a certain conformism.
The Boulevard du Jardin botanique, transformed into a highway just before the Expo 58. In the centre, the oldest American-style office building in Brussels, Rue Royale 151-153, St-Josse, architect H. Van Kuyck, 1956-1957 (detail from a period postcard).
As elsewhere in Europe, a policy for the protection of the major works of the post-war period is being organised in the Brussels region. The goodwill of owners who are aware of the quality of their asset also constitutes an effective driver for the protection of the architecture. The development of a realisation of the value of these constructions is urgently needed in order to preserve the fragile balance on which their appeal rests.
Canteen of the State Administrative Centre, demolished in 2007.
The architecture of the 1950s and 1960s has a bad reputation in Brussels. Falling victim to genuine construction fever, the heart of the city, at the time, loses whole districts to make room for vast, mostly soulless buildings. On the outskirts, new and rather dreary residential areas push the countryside back into the distance.
Nevertheless, constructions of remarkable originality flourish on this morose backdrop. Driven by great optimism, architects go in search of a renewed modern style, enriched by transparency, poetry or colour.
This virtual exhibition invites you to discover this little-known side of Brussels.