These photo’s have been on my laptop for quite some time now, and I can’t wait any longer; I really want to share them with you! There isn’t very much to tell you about the house but that should be okay as I took heaps of pictures that speak for themselves. Please enjoy this photo-report from Hôtel Hannon in St. Gillis, Brussels.
In 1902 Édouard Hannon (1853-1931) asked his childhood friend Jules Brunfaut (1852-1942) to build him a house in Art Nouveau style. He showed Brunfaut the photographs of houses designed by Horta, Van Rysselberghe and Van de Velde. It is said that Hôtel Hannon was Brunfauts first and at the same time his last Art Nouveau realization.
Hôtel Hannon broke with the tradition of 3 interconnecting rooms where the room in the middle always remained shrouded in darkness. Instead, Brunfaut made the lounge, the fumoir (smoking room) and the dining room all open onto a circular hall with a magnificent circular mosaic floor.
The frescoes in the stairwell and fumoir are the work of Paul-Albert Baudouin (1844-1931) who studied fresco techniques in Pompei, and the remarkable stained-glass windows were made by Raphaël Évaldre (1862-1938) who studied at Tiffany’s. The mahogany spiral staircase with wrought iron balustrade was made by Pierre Desmedt.
Being an engineer at Solvay, Hannon visited the Solvay plant in Dombasle (near Nancy) during a trip to Lorraine. This is where he met his future wife, as well as Emile Gallé (1846-1904) and Louis Majorelle (1859-1926) whom he asked to design the furniture, vases and lamps for his beautiful house. Unfortunately most of those objects have become dispersed, but we could get a glimpse of the original interior through below postcards we bought in the museum shop.
The Hannon family lived in the house from 1904-1965. After the death of Hannons daughter, the house fell into disrepair until it got protected by a monument status in 1976.
The municipality of Sint-Gillis purchased the house in 1979 and between 1984 and 1989 architect Louis Hoebeke conducted a thorough restoration of the facade, the roof and the interior. Since 1989, Hotel Hannon houses the Espace Photographique Contretype which is devoted to the promotion of creative photography and organises regular exhibitions. And here the story comes full circle as Hannon had traveled a great deal and the photographs which he brought back, particularly from Russia and the United States, have given him a place in the history of photography.
Now, the wonderful thing is, while visiting an exhibition of the Espace Photographique Contretype, the extraordinary harmony of marble, mosaics, stained glass and wood paneling can be admired freely. The price of an admission ticket is €3,- per person, and they don’t mind at all if you are only interested in the building rather than the exhibition. And what’s even better: you are free to take as many pictures as you like!
1 Avenue de la Jonction, 1060 Brussels
Verbindingslaan 1, 1060 Brussel