At the turn of the 2Oth century, Belgium was a hotspot of the Art Nouveau style. Architects such as Victor Horta, Octave van Rysselberghe and Henry Van de Velde designed revolutionary new buildings with asymmetrical, curved lines inspired by nature. Unfortunately, this ‘new style’ wasn’t always understood or even appreciated, and a number of Art Nouveau buildings were later stripped of their wonderful decorations or even demolished.
It is hard to imagine now, but in 1965 it was decided to raze Het Volkshuis (House of the People) to the ground. This magnificent building in the centre of Brussels, designed by Horta, housed a co-operative company, managed by the Belgian socialist party. There was widespread protest against the demolition, but to no avail. The protesters did achieve something, however: the building elements were all numbered and carefully dismantled, so they could be reassembled at a new location at a later date. Many plans were made to rebuild Het Volkshuis, but none came to fruition. Large parts of the building were even stolen or sold.