Henri De Gorge (arch. François Obin + Bruno Renard)
Boussu, Rue Sainte-Louise 82
1810 – 1831
A month ago we planned a weekend in Mons. The first day we had explored the beautiful city center, so we had to look a little further for the second day. The choice fell on the Grand-Hornu site. In the distant past, during my architectural studies, I thought it had once been a subject in the lessons architectura history …
At the end of the eighteenth century, three men were granted the rights to extract coal in this neighborhood. In 1810 the concession was sold to Henri de Gorge due to problems. De Gorge restarts production, enlarges the concession and drills extra wells, eventually he finds profitable coal layers.
The site was well located for transport, as it was next to the Bergen-Condé Canal. But it was much harder to get workers, so Henri de Gorge had a workers’ neighborhood (with 425 brick houses) built around the site. François Obin was asked as the architect, who died in 1825 and Bruno Renard took over the job. He was familiar with the Ledoux salt works and wanted to build something similar. The works were completed in 1831. One year later Herni de Gorge dies and his widow takes over the mine with 1000 to 1500 employees, an exception.
In 1954 the extraction stops, the houses were on sale. The site was falling into disrepair and in 1969 people wished to proceed with demolition. A local architect buys it for the amount of the demolition and thus prevents the demolition. The site is being renovated several times over the years and in 2002 the MAC’s opens. MAC’s stands for ‘Musée d’Art Contemporain’. Exhibitions on design and applied art are also organized in the other buildings.
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