18 May 2010


more participants here

Each time I go downtown Brussels I get angry ! Since 1959 I live here and the town has changed so much, especially in the 60th/70th. Some idiot (excuse my french) decided to modernize Brussels, to demolish all old mansions and important beautiful buildings and replace them by glass boxes ! The result was horrible and a new international word was created for architects "to brussel" or " bruxeller" in all languages.

At the place of this glass box was the "Old Post" an impressive building which also was my "lieu de rendez-vous" or the place where I had my dates, because the bus just stopped in front of the Old Post. I googled through whole Google world to find a picture of this old post, no way, not even in old postcards.

But I found some examples to explain the verb "to brussels" which I found on the net.

Before and After

Before and after

once upon a time ... and now concrete

Before and after

Last time I went to Brussels I took these examples

And now what are they doing ? They safe what is savable by all means and try to keep at least the historical facade and modernize behind !

These had been the Galleries Anspach, a beautiful old department store, with cracking wooden steps and a cosy tea room. I haven't seen the new one yet. I prefer to avoid this corner because it was just besides my beloved "Old Post".

and here they renovate another building.

It's such a pity ! In Paris they haven't done these "renovations". Brussels had been so lucky to only suffer from very few World War damages, but then the biggest damages were done to the city by one crazy government !


Anonymous said...

Wow what a difference. It's fantastic to see. I think they call it progress. Thanks for sharing.

Gledwood said...

Ou la la Gattina! C'est vraiment terrible!

The Germans had a word in World War II that might be more appropriate: to Coventrieren, after what they did to Coventry in those old air-raids. Except I'm sure some of those burnt-out buildings in Coventry looked classier than that "bruxellage" of glass boxes!

J Bar said...

Such a shame to lose so much heritage.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

diane said...

A great though provoking post. You are so right the glass and concrete blocks do not have as much character as the old architecture.

Rajesh said...

I agree with you. Old buildings are much more beautiful and artistic. In the name of modernization everything is lost.

Wolynski said...

Such a shame. On the other hand, the people of Brussels should've organized if they wanted their city protected from greedy developers.

In New York, when they wanted to tear down the magnificent Grand Central Station, people got together (led by Jackie Onassis)and managed to save it - had it designated as a historic building.

LadyFi said...

Such a shame to demolish buildings that could be saved. I do like the juxtaposition of modern and old sometimes, but not to such a large extent as here in Brussels.

Gledwood said...

Don't they have Listed Building status in Belgium and a Historic Monuments Commission?... Here we have TV shows about people buying ruined old castles. Some are 1000 years old.

The law with listed buildings is you're not allowed to knock 'em down. But also you cannot make structural alterations and (and I'm not sure I agree) you cannot repair except by replacing materials with the same ~ ie wooden window frames cannot be replaced by far hardier PVC ones, even if the PVC ones look the same and do the job better.

The people who've bought these castles have to submit the most detailed plans before they get "permission" to rebuild their own home...

On the subject of glass though I think glass can look really good against oldfashioned exteriors. Not perhaps that pyramid at the Louvre ~ still not sure about that how long? 20 years? 25 years later??

The English planning laws are ridiculously stringent. They allow ugly shoebox shaped bungalows but not Disneyland-castles with turrets. If I had ££££ to build my own house, I would have turrets!!

The listed building stuff was brought in after WWII, when thanks to the socialist government's efforts to tax the aristocracy out of existence (& I'm not saying I'd rather the old aristocracy back I just hate politics of envy even more than politics of greed)... people just could not afford to keep these old houses and literally hundreds were dynamited or smashed down!

But: what soulless people! Surely if a house is crumbling it should be left to crumble and shut down wing by wing. Never demolished!!

But that's what happened.

PS Queen Victoria had an ancient (tiny) castle razed down to make way for Balmoral Castle... This irritates me every time it crosses my mind. Hasn't she heard of extending the old house? You don't have to destroy it. And who did she think she was??!

Loree said...

It's a shame. Old buildings have so much history and are so beautiful. I cannot understand why they pull them down. It has happened here too - lovely houses replaced by concrete and glass buildings.

Debs said...

It is awful to tear down such beautiful buildings and put up square glass boxes. I see no progress in that. :(

Maribeth said...

Unfortunately many (younger) politicians do not see the beauty of the older classically designed buildings.

Sylvia K said...

I do agree with you, Gattina, and it is a shame to lose so much heritage.
Have a lovely evening!


Jossie said...

I feel exactly the same Gattina. I am angry too. So many beautiful old buildings have been demolished and so many new cold glass buildings have replaced them. Not only in Brussels. You find this anywhere. But Brussels is really one of the worst.

Melli said...

Sadly... it does happen (to some degree) almost everywhere. I sO agree with you though ... and the worst is that old building with the COCA-COLA sign on top!!! Is it REALLY necessary to advertise SO boldly? Sad enough that the old park is gone...

A Lady's Life said...

The old buildings had so much more character. The new ones look all the same.

Jingle said...

life goes on,
everything is changing for better, hopefully.

Jingle said...


friendship awards,

claudie said...

Marvelous post, Gattina! Like you I love old buildings and the restauration is the only solution to discover their beauty again. Glass buildings don't have to take their place.

Lifecruiser Travel Blog said...

Ouch! I totally understand why you're so angry!!!! I'm too now!! Those old buildings are soooo beautiful!!!!