Mid-century Brussels

We don't have the beautiful building uniformity of Paris, the smart town-planning of London or the museum-like quality of Amsterdam. What Brussels does have is a crazy mix of 19th century brick town houses with concrete mid-century office blocks. And it's the latter that has a bad reputation in Brussels. As a consequence of the Brussels world exposition of 1958, Belgians capital fell victim to genuine construction fever. Driven by great optimism, architects went in search of a renewed modern style, enriched by transparency, poetry or colour.

Next to the soulless, highly profitable, concrete monsters there was a flourishing construction of remarkable buildings. In Brussels these buildings are better know as "Style 58", referring to the year of its establishment at the Expo. Style 58 humanises functionalism through the introduction of decorative forms. Full of freshness and fantasy, this trend blossoms in both design and the arts, as well as in architecture.

Reflections of the ambient optimism, the colours are joyful and the forms energising: V-shaped pillars, cap-shaped canopies and boomerang-shaped handles. This short-lived style - it already disappears circa 1963 - gives modernism an undeniable power of seduction.

The architecture of the 1950s and 1960s is today reaching a critical point. Little by little, the buildings are deteriorating or disappearing. The new materials, reputed at the time to be permanent, have poor resistance to the passage of time. However, this architecture’s worst enemy still remains the indifference that it continues to arouse among the public. This is due, in particular, to the banality of a large part of the production of the period, in which the examples of quality become lost.

That's why the I Love Belgium team puts some of the best Brussels examples together! Enjoy.

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