Art Nouveau was a style of art and architecture that was popular from 1890-1910. It was inspired by nature, particularly the forms of plants and flowers. The intricate design style originated in Belgium, and the first art nouveau house designs were credited to Victor Horta, who was a Ghent native. Brussels and Antwerp are better known for their art nouveau buildings, but there are also some art nouveau buildings in Ghent which are worth talking a walk past too. Here are some of my favorites:
Achilles Van Hoecke-Dessel built many art nouveau style buildings in Ghent, but this one was his own residence. Erected in 1903 on the Kunstlaan, it has some striking art nouveau details. The most interesting and appealing are the door, with its circular frame and the lovely ironwork balconies. Van Hoecke-Dessel also designed a row of houses in 1904 around the corner at Kattenberg 39-49. These are interesting individually and as a whole with their brickwork and staggered floor levels.
Location: Kunstlaan 41
You can see another example of Van Hoecke-Dessel’s work at Parklaan 37.
You will find this colorful house in the Patershol district on the corner of Sluizeken. It was built in 1904 by Georges Hendricks. What is unique about this art nouveau building is the use of color – bright oranges and yellows which are an updated version of the original paint. The building now hosts a coffee shop and B&B.
Location: Sluizeken 8
Biezekapelstraat 1 and Sint-Baafsplein 25
Both erected in 1901, these two art nouveau buildings in Ghent were designed by the Ghentian architect Jean Ghys. The house on the corner of Sint-Baafsplein has a typical extended glass window on the third floor and a high tower on the top floor. The curled cast iron decorations are also attractive. The adjoining house on Biezekapelstraat has some similar and some unique features. It has another extended window and a series of arched windows on each floor. There is a circular window over the front door and a overarch on the top of the building.
This 1899 gem sits near Citadel park on a street filled with homes brimming with Art Nouveau character. Beert Campens was the architect responsible for the beautiful turn of the century details including the sgraffito panels above and below the windows.There is a three sided window that sits on ironwork and a wooden carved door that adds to the home’s character.
This beautiful, narrow home on Parklaan has an assortment of eye pleasing details. The windows and door have curved lines, the balcony’s delicate iron work and the small but tasteful details delight. Particularly charming is the tilework peacock between the arched windows. This home was built in 1900 by Jules-Pascal Ledoux, who also designed the Wintercircus, a large circular arena close to De Krook.
This wide street which leads to St-Pieters Station was part of an urban renewal project at the turn of the 20th century. Many architects designed their own homes on this street, hence it is a lovely avenue to explore. At number 20 you will find a lovingly preserved 1909 Urbain Crommen design with glazed brick and curved windows and doors. He also designed numbers 44-48. There are several art nouveau villas to be found on Prinses Clementinalaan which were the work of architect Leon DeKeyser. Villa Clementina at 53 has friezes of peacocks and butterflies above the windows which are both delightful. He also built numbers 45-51 (unfortunately now a night shop), Villa Elisabeth, number 86, numbers 123 and 125-127. The last is decorated with floral tiles, an intricate iron work balcony and distinctive strips of colored tile.
Tentoonstellingslaan 63 was actually the first house to be built on this street in 1909. The street was developed at that time on the site of the old zoo and was created to be a broad avenue that could accommodate a tram line. Adolphe Van de Kerkhove designed the building with a mansard roof, asymmetrical sides and stylized flower tiling. The female heads towards the top of the home are very distinctly art nouveau. At number 86, you can see a terraced house designed by Guillaume Monnier which has a series of facade panels with children, fruit and wreaths. It has a gabled roof with an overhanging wooden cornice. There are several more lovely art nouveau houses on this street – pass by 71, 151 and 153 if you have time!
Once you start looking, you will find many art nouveau buildings in Ghent! Are there any in your neighborhood? Please share them with us!