Travel through time and visit the Stoclet House as it was in 1911 thanks to its virtual double
→ At the Museum of Art & History, Parc du Cinquantenaire 10, 1000 Brussels
This exhibition is the result of a collaboration between Urban, the ULB - Architecture Faculty La Cambre Horta and the Art & History Museum. It came to be against the backdrop of the Brussels Art Nouveau Year 2023 and is presented in the frame of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union (1 January until 30 June 2024).
The aim of this exhibition and the digital reproduction, presented as a film, is to take visitors on a tour of the interiors of the Stoclet House, which has been on the very select list of Brussels buildings placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2009, but is still little known to the general public.
The virtual reproduction of this house (which reproduces the house as it was between 1911 and 1918 and does not represent the current situation) is based on precise archival sources and a detailed architectural analysis of its spaces. This task kept the team of experts* busy for almost two years. The realism of the reproduction yields an immersive experience which allows visitors to see the Stoclet House as it was from 1911 to 1918: we discover it exactly as it had been conceived by husband and wife Adolphe Stoclet and Suzanne Stevens. Now, for the duration of this exhibition, we are all their guests.
* This scientific study of the Stoclet House is part of a close collaboration between the experts from the Brussels Capital Region (Urban) and the ULB (ALLCE Laboratory).
1. The reasons for fascination
The Stoclet House might well be considered Josef Hoffmann’s masterpiece, an architect with a profound influence on European architecture. At the end of the nineteenth century, designers, architects and artists gradually became more autonomous, seeking to distinguish themselves from the artistic currents that preceded them. This marked the beginning of a frantic succession of artistic movements, which followed one another in ever shorter cycles. This dynamic, driven by the quest for modernity and progress, marked the better part of the nineteenth century and all of the twentieth century. For each of these artistic currents, society named a few individuals, usually men, as mentors: V. Horta, Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Van de Velde, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and others became, throughout this history, an absolute reference placed at the top of this hierarchal pyramid. They were granted the status of geniuses, thereby overshadowing those who developed sometimes less radical but nonetheless interesting careers.
Hoffman is one of those so-called geniuses who fascinate and fuel this myth. Through his teaching, his presence at many international exhibitions and his long life, he touched several generations. But it is above all his quest for modernity and for spiritual elevation through beauty and purity of form that has inspired hundreds of architects and designers in our western culture.
His work was so radical that it awed both the future modernists of the avant-garde and the Art Deco followers, in spite of their fundamental differences. This fascination certainly lasted until the 2000s (postmodernism).
2. Towards a complete 3D digital reproduction of the Stoclet House
Through this research, the Brussels Capital Region not only wishes to make this knowledge accessible to as many people as possible, but also to build a scientific information base on the spatiality of the building and its remarkable decorations. The research behind this digital documentation project, carried out by the AllCe laboratory of the Architecture Faculty (ULB), is meant to consolidate a knowledge base on the three-dimensional representation of the building, which will be enriched over time. The digitisation of the floors, service areas and gardens of the Stoclet House will be added to the work that is already done. As a follow-up to the project, the work of reconstructing the original art collection will be continued, so as to gradually be integrated into the digital double of the building.
Stoclet House, World Heritage site
The Stoclet House is featured on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2009
Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union
This exhibition was designed as part of the Art Nouveau Brussels 2023 programme and is launched on the occasion of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union.