Of all the spectacular buildings on Cogels-Osylei, my personal favorite is a rather simple house called De Morgenster, Morning Star. It was built by architect Joseph Bascourt (1863-1927), and as far as I am concerned, it is a masterpiece. The house is located at number 55, right across from De Zonnebloem (The Sunflower), which I described in an earlier post.
De Morgenster is said to be commissioned by a German businessman for his Antwerp mistress in 1904. I also read somewhere the house belonged to a certain ms. Taggenbroeck. Was she the mysterious mistress?
What makes this house so attractive, is the elegant trapezoidal facade, reminding us of an Egyptian temple. It is constructed with light yellow bricks, flanked on both sides by red bricks and decorative bands.
For the first floor and downstairs windows and for the front door, Bascourt re-used designs and decorative motifs he created earlier for his Lotus and Papyrus (Transvaalstraat 52-54, 1901). He based the plinth and cornice construction on his designs for Boreas (Transvaalstraat 56, 1898).
The two round windows in the top of the facade however are rather unusual and therefore quite original. Unfortunately, the original mosaic above the bifora (twin-window) is replaced by a tile panel. The original mosaic included a morning star.
Should you decide to go to Berchem and discover the Cogels-Osylei for yourself, I can recommend the book Op wandel door de belle époque. Cogels-Osylei, Zurenborg, Antwerpen, Berchem. Unfortunately, the book is in Dutch, but I have located a nice walk in English for you here.
UPDATE: In 2019, I discovered, author Dirk Van Boxem wrote a novel about this beautiful house. The book is called ‘Morgenster’, of course; it’s available in Dutch. You can find out more about the book on the author’s webpage Morgenster, het boek. As the novel is no longer available in bookstores, it can be ordered directly from the author.