World Heritage #1298 – Stoclet House

Last updated Mar 26, 2022 | Published on May 27, 2017Belgium, North and Central Europe, World Heritage Sites

In 1911 a luxurious home to a wealthy banker and art collector, the Stoclet House, was finished. It spared no costs in its richly decorated exterior and interior. The Art Nouveau hinted of what was yet to materialise in the newer styles of Art Deco and the Modern Movement.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Official facts

  • Country: Belgium
  • Date of Inscription: 2009
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 1298:

When banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet commissioned this house from one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann, in 1905, he imposed neither aesthetic nor financial restrictions on the project. The house and garden were completed in 1911 and their austere geometry marked a turning point in Art Nouveau, foreshadowing Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture.

Stoclet House is one of the most accomplished and homogenous buildings of the Vienna Secession, and features works by Koloman Moser and Gustav Klimt, embodying the aspiration of creating a ‘total work of art’ (Gesamtkunstwerk). Bearing testimony to artistic renewal in European architecture, the house retains a high level of integrity, both externally and internally as it retains most of its original fixtures and furnishings.

My visit

Brussels has three world heritage sites. Two of them are acknowledgements of the works of great architects from around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Neither is open to the public. The other is Victor Horta’s town houses. The Stoclet Palace/Palais/House is Josef Hoffmann’s artwork. It bears the name of the family who commissioned it. 

This is pure luxury, a building covered by grey Norwegian marble with a facade towards the street. This is as far as we get. For an inside glimpse, read this article. The park and formal facade is at the back. The house is still in private ownership. Only two caretakers live here now, and they let very few people inside.

This is of course a huge disappointment. You will most likely not venture out into this neighbourhood unless you have a sincere interest in architecture. Or like me, an interest in seeing new world heritage sites. There is a hope that the authorities of Brussels and Belgium will be able to do something about this. Of course, this must be done in collaboration with the remaining heirs of the Stoclet family.

Read more about my visit.

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