The Brussels government has approved the proposal of Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism and Heritage Pascal Smet to protect the Saint-Géry residence, designed by architect Paul-Amaury Michel
Paul-Amaury Michel is one of the most important representatives of Belgian’s modernist movement.
State Secretary Smet’s determined policy of protecting post-war buildings aims to avoid mistakes of the past, when many interesting Brussels buildings were demolished.
“Brussels’ great variety and our rich history is also reflected in our architecture. Starting from the Romanesque period, around 1200, you can find interesting examples of almost every major architectural period in Brussels. For example, Brussels is also home to numerous modernist buildings. In the past, the quality of architecture was not always appreciated. Magnificent buildings disappeared or were mutilated by personal choices that were specific to certain time periods. We definitely want to avoid such arbitrary decisions in the future by protecting our architectural gems from all eras,” said Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism and Heritage, Pascal Smet.
The architect, Paul-Amaury Michel
Paul-Amaury Michel was born in Brussels in 1912 and died in our city, in 1988. Michel studied at La Cambre, where he was a pupil of Eggericx. After his studies, he got in touch with the architects Le Corbusier, Robert Mallet-Stevens and Pierre Chareau, among others, who would influence his work. Paul-Amaury Michel evolved into an important personality of Brussels’ modernist architecture.
He first specialised in designing small apartment buildings. His first design, the “Glass House” in Uccle (protected since 1998) is a well-known example. Other well-known designs are the apartment building at 92 Avenue de l’Université (1937) in Ixelles and Résidence Clarté (1938) at 292 Avenue Molière.
From 1950, he mainly focused on the construction of pavilions and exhibition stands representing Belgium at various international fairs (Milan, Berlin, Budapest, Beijing, etc.).
The Saint-Géry residence, designed in 1955 and finished in 1958, is an exceptional witness to 1950s Brussels modernist architecture.
At that time, after many difficult years, there was a lot of optimism in the city, which was expressed by cheerful, colourful architecture. Brussels was preparing for Expo 58 and wanted to show itself internationally as a city with a modern image. The Saint-Géry residence is a perfect example of this new architectural era, which lasted into the 1960s.
This seven floor building offers commercial space on the ground floor and three housing units per floor. Its facades are remarkably dynamic. It is a corner building with a large profile at the intersection of Pont de la Carpe and Rue Van Artevelde, between Rue Antoine Dansaert and the Halles Saint-Géry, and has evolved into a real visual and urban landmark for the neighbourhood due to its location.