Time has come to discover a rather unknown art nouveau gem of Brussels: the Maison Devalck. The renovation of the main facade by the new owners won the First Prize of the Heritage Prize of Schaerbeek in 2020. And it is also one of the few private-own art nouveau houses that will be open for a visit during the BANAD Festival this spring.
Local architect Gaspard Devalck (1872-1962) designed a small house for on a very particular triangular-shaped site in Rue André Van Hasselt in 1900. Although there is no archival document to support it, numerous publications state that the house was built for his mother. Shortly after he added next door his own studio. The former one situated at no. 32 was bought in 2018 by Thomas Vandormael and Anne Moermans. The young couple managed to buy the other building as well last year, so the two houses are once again literally united.
It was during my lockdown art nouveau walks in April 2020 that I discovered this amazing art nouveau facade that is situated rather off the beaten art nouveau routes. The facade was in a rather bad condition, but the stained glass windows were outstanding and I was glad to see a notice on the railing of the cellar that renovation was ongoing.
Despite the COVID pandemic, thanks to the perseverance of the owners, the renovation of the facade was not only terminated, but was awarded by the First Prize of the Heritage Prize of Schaerbeek.
So, let’s have a closer look at this special facade. The curved facade combines white stone with blue stone and red bricks and is toped by a carved wood cornice that was also restored. The horseshoe-shaped window of the cellar is protected by a radiating wrought-iron grille. A nice floral sgraffito stands above the entrance that has gained back its shine during the renovation. But what truly catches the eye is the stained glass windows attributed to stained-glass master, Raphael Evaldre, close collaborator of Arch. Victor Horta. Their quality and dimension makes one stop and stare even from the outside. The lower one represents a heron amongst reeds. The upper bay window feature a bird and blue irises – very typical motifs all over Brussels – in a pink light. The clouds are Japanese-style, one of the main sources of inspiration for art nouveau artists. These windows were renovated previously in 2010 when these efforts were also awarded by the local Heritage Prize.
Few months after my walk, I was fortunate enough to visit the inside of this art nouveau gem. It is not only its facade, but also the inside of the house that is listed thanks to the numerous well-preserved original elements. Thomas Vandormael, the new owner told me how he first saw images of the house in the window of a real estate agency. Then they just fell in love with the place. In the kitchen the original furniture is still in place, while the rooms of the first floor have timber panelling and ceramic tiles. The doors are all embellished with stained-glass that “constitute a true hymn to the female body with their sensuous curves” (Cécile Dubois). The interior is thus a very interesting mix of art nouveau and neo-renaissance.
Living in such a house carries responsibility. Thomas and Anne know this from the beginning, and consider their mission to open this amazing house to the public, sharing the impressions that this particular environment creates. As Thomas says: “I firmly believe that art is of social importance that should not only be accessible to some privileged, but lived by everyone. This is the reason why we participate on the European Heritage Days and the BANAD – Brussels Art Nouveau and Art Deco – Festival.”
Good news: the complete program of the BANAD Festival is already available. Online booking for individual visits will open on 21st April. Maison Devalck will be open for the individual visits on the weekend of 5-6th June. So, book your visit and emerge in the unique atmosphere of Maison Devalck!