Hôtel Tassel

Victor Horta

The narrow, symmetrical front facade

Built for the Belgian scientist Edmond Tassel, this building is considered by some scholars to be the first Art Nouveau building in Brussels. It is certainly Horta's first mature work in this style. Horta made a break with the past here by using stone and the modern material, metal, in domestic architecture. The modernity of Horta's town house is also signaled by the extensive use of glass, where the window sizes may indicate the function of the interior. (See also the later Hôtel Solvay, the Hôtel van Eetvelde and Horta's own house and studio.) The facade includes classical elements like moldings and columns but here some of the columns are iron, not stone, and the entablature is metal, complete with exposed rivets. In addition, this town house has features that would become characteristic of Horta's domestic architecture: an open floor plan; a use of natural light; a unity of architecture, interior decoration, and furniture.
A large bay window extending over two stories, dominates the front facade. While the entrance is shaded by the classical overhanging lintel with enormous brackets, the rest of the central bay is glazed and features the lightest and most slender of metal supports.

The mezzanine floor

Tassel's smoking room lay behind these windows with the small stone columns with tendrils gripping the iron lintel above and the base below. The exposed rivets seem part of the decorative program.

The central curved bay with details of the bow window

The bowing forward of the entire central bay has parallels with the linear curves within. Apparently, the interior is even more striking in its use of linear interior architecture as well as curvilinear decoration on walls, stairways, and floors.

The ground floor and entrance


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© 2007 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.