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Monday, 10 February 2014


In the UK we are used to our buildings being well mannered and self effacing. We like to"blend in" and are most assertive in insisting that others should blend in with us. What about office suits and school uniforms? We are very proud of our Georgian terraced houses, each perfect in its proportion. Reticent, gentlemanly and reserved, rather than heart on sleeves. If we build pairs of houses they must be twins, share the same genes. Semi detached rather than semi attached?

It is so different in lovely Belgium. Self expression is the thing The oldest buildings are wonderfully extravagant, each stadhuis must have pinnacles and baroque towers, the churches are tall with wonderful towers. Brussels is the spiritual home of Art Nouveau and organically twisting iron work flourishes everywhere. Art Deco is rampant.

And there are no holds barred when you build up against another house. It seems to be compulsory to use different materials and style. Nothing lines up, the scale of each building is a personal choice. It is as if the architects were engaged in a duel and, whilst sometimes it is weird , most of the time it is WONDERFUL!

This is the view from our bedroom window. Every house in the street, and the next street, is different.
As I write this I am thinking I should draw all the  houses in the neighbourhood, some are very fine. It might make a good series?

In case you were wondering our home is a superb Hansel and Gretel fantasy with a steep roof by a Dutch architect;  handmade bricks and wrought iron holding back the shutters, festooned in summer with red roses.  We fit in!

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