Art Nouveau in Antwerp

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau: an art movement that manifested itself between 1890 and 1914. The term art nouveau is mainly used in Belgium and France, while in Austria and Germany Jugendstil is used. In Spain, the term modernism is used. Common is the asymmetrical, second style in the entire art history that used this (the first is the rococo), and the use of animal and floral motifs. Art Nouveau was used for everything, from architecture to furniture art, from coffee services to jewelery.

Personally, it is one of my favorite styles, even when I was younger. My first heroes were Horta and Mackintosh.

My favorites:

1901 – De Vijf Werelddelen

(Five Continents)

corner Schildersstraat – Plaatsnijdersstraat, Antwerp

architect F. Smet-Verhas

Architect Frans Smet has designed various Art Nouveau properties in Antwerp. He also worked in an eclectic or neo-Flemish Renaissance style, styles that were especially wanted by the bourgeoisie. He was married to Sophia Verhas, Frans took her last name, and together they had a son, Arthur Smet. Arthur was the teacher of Renaat Braem.

Shipbuilder P. Roeis had four houses designed by Frans Smet on the corner of the Schildersstraat and Plaatsnijdersstraat. The corner building in particular is impressive and is popularly called “the boat”. The balcony is in the form of a boat, as a reference to the client’s work. In 1988, the corner house and two adjacent terraced houses were protected.

1901 – Liberaal Volkshuis Help U Zelve

Volkstraat 40, Antwerp

architecten Jan Van Asperen en Emiel Van Averbeke

In 1984 the liberal association “Help U Zelve” (Help Yourself) bought a plot in the Volksstraat. The building application was submitted by architect Van Asperen in 1899, but was not delivered until 1901. The name of architect Van Averbeke appears on the mosaic in the facade. The building had various functions: coffee house, meeting room, party room, theater room and bakery. In 1952 the interior was changed to serve as a factory. From 1989 to 1994 the building was restored and renovated for the current function: the Steinerschool.

There was a café in the center on the ground floor. The party room was on the first floor behind the horseshoe-shaped window. At the top of the façade there are sculptures of a pelican, a symbol of solidarity, and of male figures, the power of labor. The mosaic at the center of the façade has the theme of “Labor” and the four smaller panels on the right of the building represent professions: a sowing farmer, a carpenter, a stonemason and an ironworker. A few houses further down the road Volkstraat, at nunmer 52-54, were the company’s warehouse and bakery.

1902 – Control Pavilion Nassaubrug

Nassaubrug, Hanzestedenplaats, Antwerp

architect unknown

This control pavilion is located at the oldest bridge in the port of Antwerp, the Nassaubrug. The bridge was opened in 1867 and the cottage was built in 1902. The architect is not known. The building had a bended roof, but it has disappeared. The bridge and thus also the operating house fell into disuse in 1974. The bridge was thoroughly restored in 2004 and since then it is only used for pedestrians and cyclists. They are looking for a new application for the control pavilion.

1907 – Fire station Paleisstraat

Paleisstraat 122 – 126, Antwerp

architects Emiel Van Averbeke, Jan Van Asperen, Alexis Van Mechelen

Emiel Van Averbeke is one of the key figures in the Antwerp Art Nouveau. He also participated in the Liberal People’s House. Van Averbeke was a city official and in that position he was often instructed to design a new fire station. The first of the series is this one, in the Paleissraat, from 1907. He works together with Jan Van Asperen. The fire station was constructed in a sober Art Nouveau, following the architecture of the Dutch architect Berlage. The 2nd fire station of his hand is in Halenstraat (1910 – 1913) and the last is that of Siberiastraat, where the new Port House is now located.

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