With a group of friends we participated in a combination of activities. The Banad Festival offered us the opportunity to have guided visits of art deco /art nouveau buildings in Brussels and the ‘Foire d’objets Art nouveau et Art Déco et salon des restaurateurs’. We were part of the larger Paris Art Deco group that visited most of the same activities and of course by invitation of the Brussel Art Deco association that exists since 2016.
In addition to this we had a few activities that were typical for A Few Days Like No Others like: the ‘marché aux puces’, which features in The Adventures of Tintin: the secret of the Unicorn.
But also a very special evening ‘Annees Folles’at the Archiduc in Brussel with fantastic performances by different artists.
Pictures by activity:
Shared house with view
Villa van Buuren
This time, when we visited Villa van Buuren we went with day light, which gives a whole other experience of the building, and especially the gardens. In contrast with last time we were not allowed to take pictures inside the house, but as we were already given permission to do this last time, you can still enjoy our pictures here: https://www.afewdayslikenoothers.com/pictures-ukkel/.
On this page you will also find pictures of Villa Empain, which we have skipped during this episode as there is so much to see.
The gardens of the Villa van Buuren were created four years before the house was built. The rose-garden was designed by Jules Buyssens, the garden architect who would also draw the gardendesign for the world exhibition in Brussels in 1935. The geometric rose-garden is in line with the Art Deco movement. In the garden you will find plenty of exotic trees. When the Van Buurens lived there they also had a tennis court and they held many garden parties. In the 1960s a maze was created in the style of the labyrint of king Minos and the seven green ‘rooms’ are a reference to the Canticles song of Solomon. The garden with the harts is a design by René Pechère (as is the labyrint) and it was meant as an ode of love of Alice to her husband, 15 years after his dead.
Dinner at the Taverne du Passage
I would NOT recommend this restaurant for group dinners. The service was very bad, the group was separated into different tables, which was a shame, and the quality of the food compared with the price was not good enough. Nevertheless we had a pleasant evening with each other’s company and laughing about the Charly Chaplin type of service.
Visits with the Paris Art Deco group
With the Paris Art Deco group we visited four buildings with a guided tour, and saw many beautifull buildings walking from one to the other. The first house was maison Herrero from 1924. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but it is worth a visit. With a great Spanish influence you find yourself more in Andalusia then in the specific art deco style, but it is grand: a patio in the middle of the hall with a double glass sealing for sunlight and a fountain! Of course many mosaic tyles and a typical tea corner. I was also impressed by the sliding wooden doors that go into the wall and give the place a medieval look. The owners of the house do a B&B, so worth going there for a stay so you have plenty of time to see all its beauty.
The British International School of Brussels
This building has many art nouveau style elements and used to be a house before it was a school. You needed quite some imagination to try and picture the place without all the children’s drawings, lessons and colorfull things that were covered litterly on all the walls, and even on the authentic ornaments. I have tried to picture a few details that were free of that.
This modernistic building was built in 1936 in ‘Paquebot-style’. It was designed by architect Georges France. You see clearly the change in the Interbellum period from individualistc houses towards big appartment buildings with modern housing and comfort. In the entrance hall you could see the elevator for the servants and the elevator for the visitors. In that way you would never have to cross each other in the same elevator. We have not seen an appartment as the permission to show it was withdrawn by the owner.
Other buildings in the surroundings of Insula.
The Residence Palace is a complex of buildings, built in the 1920s in Art Deco style. It was designed by the architect Michael Polak. It was a meant as a luxurious apartment block for the bourgeoisie, including facilities as a theatre hall, a swimming pool and a restaurant. The building had a short commercial succes, but it was occupied by the nazis during the Second World War. After the liberation the old tenants did not return but it become the headquarters of SHAET and RAF air force. Today it is used for administrative offices and for the EU.
The by-gone glory of the swimming pool:
What a wonderfull delight to be taken back to the roaring twenties in a speakeasy kind of way. This beautifull art deco place was the perfect setting for an intimate show with fantastic performers who gave us an authentic feel and a lot of amusement. Humorous with a lot of gaiety, but also purely beautifull: all performers showed us how the 1920s burlesque and cabaret art should be performed. It was also a real treat to be invited to dance ourselves and what a wonderfull closure of the evening with a nice afterparty with the performers. This again made our weekend: A Few Days Like No Others.
Interesting buildings in Brussel from the Interbellum period