From royal and early Art Nouveau building, to today’s hotel and museum, the Solvay House has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument since 2003.
The Hotel Solvay and most of its content have remained intact thanks to the Wittamer family who acquired the house in the 1950s and did the utmost to preserve and restore this magnificent dwelling. The house, once private property, is from last January 2021 a museum. It is accepting visitors twice a week1.
The Solvay Hotel was completed in 1903 by the architect Victor Horta by request of Armand Solvay, the son of the wealthy Belgian chemist and industrialist Ernest Solvay, to give a place to his bride in 1984.
Being remained intact for so long and being one of the works of Horta, the Solvay Hotel is an Art Nouveau masterpiece and a relevant cultural site in Brussels. Due to its very specific characteristic, the building was classified as a monument by royal decree of 07.04.1988, while the garden and the old stables were classified as such in their entirety by government decree of 04.22.1999. Finally, as before mentioned, the Solvay Hotel was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 20032.
The architecture style of the Solvay Hotel is the typical one that was used to represent a large bourgeois family of the nineteenth century and offers in this respect a fairly classic schedule.
However, there is something radically new in the way it was constructed. Horta revolutionized the architecture of his time both by his desire to decompartmentalize spaces by the affirmation of metallic structures and unconventional materials in the living rooms and by the transparency of the space that results from it. It was innovative also due to the comfort of natural air conditioning and the real ergonomics of the whole and the furniture. Since every rooms was designed according to people’s needs and desires, the Hotel has been informally classified as a living and intelligent organism, in dialogue with those who lived there3.
Moreover, in contrast to most contemporary Brussels architecture, the façade is not disconnected from the inside-style. It is harmonious in all of its aspects: a real original spot.