1 April 2011

Brussels, beer and buildings

I was in Brussels this week. Trying to solve damp problems in my flat there. One of my ceiling lights had to be repaired as well, so went to www.autre-lumiere.com on the Avenue Louise. A great lighting shop. 

Around the corner, major works were going on to transform a block of old buildings of the former Brasseries d'Ixelles into apartments.

The pillars of the former entrance looked vaguely fifties. I looked it up and found this photo when this was one of the bigger beer brewers in Belgium. (see www.brasseries-d-ixelles.be for more info). 

If you want to see building history which will soon disappear again, go there now. The ceiling of the fifties entrance had been knocked through and revealed remains of old plaster ceilings of the 19th century (if you don't know my love for plaster, have a look at my earlier blog: plaster is great stuff)

I tried to work out why the old ceiling would have had a caution written on it that this was private property. Had the room been knocked through to become an entrance earlier on? No, trained eye told me that the ceiling cornicing would have been too plain for a ground floor room: it was probably built as a small passage way to the back of the building.
The ceiling on the other side of the entrance looked like that of a room. It must have been used to widen the entrance before or after the war. 

Belgians are still pretty careless with their architecture. These sort of 'improvements' still happen today. The concept of paying lip service to an old building by retaining the front facade but knocking everything else down is referred to as fa├žadism. The Wikipedia definition has a photo from Brussels to explain it.
Here another peek of the ceiling history, soon to disappear again.

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