Alina Rotaru on behalf of ESA
The ESA office located on 24 rue des Comédiens in Brussels was happy to be part of the Heritage Days of Brussels organized on the 17th and 18th of September.
We were pleased and honoured to accept the invitation of the City of Brussels to participate in this event, which was dedicated this year to the recycling of styles. Maybe many of our members are not aware of it, as it has been a while since we published articles related to this subject, but the ESA office in Brussels is located in a beautiful 19th century Maison de Maître, a historically-listed house, built in 1898 by architect Albert Dumont. A renowned architect of his time, Albert Dumont created several important buildings in Brussels and Belgium and is known for the way in which he made a mix of different architectural styles in his creations.
The house was bought by the ESA in 2001 and was subject to extended renovations partially financed by the Brussels Regional Government, to be inaugurated in the autumn of 2003 as ESA headquarters. At the time of its purchase, the house was a ruin and had it not been a listed building it may have been demolished. Luckily, due to the ESA’s interest in the building and the help of Brussels authorities, the beautiful 19th century mansion was saved. Even now, more than 10 years after its renovation, the project is considered as a success due to the way in which craftsmanship and passion combined and brought to life a piece of Brussels history.
This is the second time that the ESA has been asked to open its doors to the public so that people interested in art and architecture can benefit from the beauty of our office and we were pleasantly surprised to see how numerous they were.
During the two days of the event, our office was visited by around 900 people who benefitted from the presentations of three professional guides (two in French and one in Flemish) who talked about the architectural features of the building and its history and the way it intertwined with the history of Brussels and its neighbourhoods. They were also able to present to the public some pictures of the house at the beginning of the 20th century and from the 1980s when it was still in use.
The feedback we received was that the visitors were impressed by the beauty of the house and the way it was renovated. It was interesting also to learn that some visitors knew the house from the time it was still in very poor condition and were curious to learn about its safeguarding and renovation.
All in all we were very glad and honoured that our office is considered as a part of Brussels’ architectural heritage and that we could open our doors to the public interested to learn about it.