Timeframe analysis

Slowly but steadily architects’ houses have been built since the independence of Belgium. Although architecture is dislocated from other art professions since the late 18th century, only two architects’ houses were found before 1830. This could be related to the fact that in Brussels the tendency to build an own house manifested itself in a later stage in history. Otherwise this finding can result from the limited amount of publications covering the evolution of Brussels before the establishment of Belgium as an independent country. Therefore, more houses could still be discovered through other sources. Nevertheless, the surface of Brussels was limited to the region fringed by the Pentagon until 1830, and therefore the total housing stock in Brussels was also rather small. As a consequence it is plausible that also fewer architects and architects’ houses were present. It is observed that the tendency to house yourself as an architect only truly developed in the late 19th century when Brussels became progressively urbanized. Therefore, a great opportunity arose for the Brussels’ architects as the demand for newly built houses increased drastically, which offered the occasion to attract a lot of new assignments to support their growing and booming businesses. Although many architects worked and lived in Brussels they only started to compete with each other, by means of their houses, from the 1890s onwards. Over the timespan of the following 20 years, almost half of the current housing stock on architects’ houses was erected as architects discovered their houses as an effective tool to attract clients, since it offered the ability to showcase their capabilities and ideas through an example par excellence. More than any other design project, the personal dwelling provides the opportunity to make statements since the architect gave his concepts the necessary credibility by living in the house himself. When in addition an architectural office was accommodated in their own home, it became an even more powerful means as then clients could experience the house for themselves. This promising rise of architects’ houses came to an abrupt stop when the First World War broke out, until the city started to flourish again around 1923. Since this was the era in which the Modernist Movement came to the fore, again a new boost in architects’ houses can be perceived. This is explained by the fact that the duality between “housing the individual or the mass” became a hot topic in the international debate on architecture, by virtue of which the architect’s house became a useful instrument once again to explore various new design questions. As a result, the debate was accompanied in an exemplary way by various architects’ houses being built. But the outbreak of the Second World War ceased this growth again. Afterwards the heydays of the architect’s house never returned as a more steady evolution followed with only 26 additional houses over a period of 30 years. More recently it is perceived that the tendency to attract clients by the showcase of the own dwelling is fading even further.