“Modernika” exhibition: Modernist and International Style in Belgium

Taking as its starting-point the legendary Expo 58, with its contribution to spreading the “American way of life” in Belgium, the exhibition demonstrates the various ways in which the American dream manifested itself. The exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to (re)discover Modernist and International Style architecture.

 

The Information Pavilion at Expo 58 on the Place De Brouckère, Brussels. The architects were Lucien-Jacques Baucher, Jean-Pierre Blondel and Odette Filippone, while René Sarger was the civil engineer.  © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

The Information Pavilion at Expo 58 on the Place De Brouckère, Brussels. The architects were Lucien-Jacques Baucher, Jean-Pierre Blondel and Odette Filippone, while René Sarger was the civil engineer © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

 

As part of its exhibitions devoted to architecture, the Atomium proposes as of October 29th 2015 until April 10th 2016, Modernika, devoted to architecture in Belgium after 1945. Examples reflecting Belgium’s aspiration towards American-style cities include the Martini Tower in Brussels, conceived as a “city within a city” and Antwerp’s BP Tower, with its totally suspended façade.


 

Practical information

“Modernika”
October 29 2015 until April 10 2016
Atomium
Avenue de l’Atomium, 1020
Bruxelles, Belgium

 


The Modernika exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to (re)discover Modernist and International Style architecture. Taking as its starting-point the legendary Expo 58, with its contribution to spreading the “American way of life” in Belgium, the exhibition demonstrates the various ways in which the American dream manifested itself.

 

The Volkswagen service station in the Avenue Houba de Strooper, Laeken. Architect Claude Laurens in collaboration with the engineer Cornelis Duyster, 1957. © The D’Ieteren Gallery, Ixelles

The Volkswagen service station in the Avenue Houba de Strooper, Laeken. Architect Claude Laurens in collaboration with the engineer Cornelis Duyster, 1957 © The D’Ieteren Gallery, Ixelles

A design made by Albert Bontridder for the United Nations pavilion at the request of Paul-Amaury Michel, 1956.  © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

A design made by Albert Bontridder for the United Nations pavilion at the request of Paul-Amaury Michel, 1956 © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

 

THEMES

It is structured around themes such as the vertical city, the huge rise in car ownership, private houses and suburban residences, prefabricated homes, social housing and the ultimate American dream. Some of the examples illustrating these themes are the City Administrative District, the Hilton and Martini Towers, the high-rise Prévoyance Sociale headquarters, the D’Ieteren establishments, the Model District and the Ieder Zijn Huis programme, Glaverbel and the Manhattan district in Brussels, Antwerp’s BP Tower and Administrative Centre, as well as Albert Bontridder’s houses.

 

The United States Pavilion. Arch. Edward D. Stone and P.G. Harden & Associates. © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels / Photo G. Lulsens

The United States Pavilion. Arch. Edward D. Stone and P.G. Harden & Associates © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels / Photo G. Lulsens

The United States Pavilion. Arch. Edward D. Stone and P.G. Harden & Associates. © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels / Photo G. Lulsens

The United States Pavilion. Arch. Edward D. Stone and P.G. Harden & Associates © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels / Photo G. Lulsens

 

The aim behind the exhibition is to showcase the wealth of architectural creations produced from Expo 58 to the 1980s. Although these works are often criticized because they are associated with the demolition of older districts and with major urban developments, they do include constructions of great merit. The influence of American architecture in Brussels is characterized by unprecedented artistic forms and research, buildings of unparalleled height and remarkable technical prowess.

 

The former BP Belgium (now AXA) office building. J. Van Rijswijcklaan, Antwerp. Arch. Léon Stynen, in collaboration with P. De Meyer and J. Reusens, 1960-1963 © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

 

With Modernika, we aim to modify feelings towards this recent heritage, which is nevertheless imbued with optimism, a progressive ideology and enthusiasm for technical developments.

KIDS WORKSHOPS

During a guided interactive tour thought the exhibition, the children discover how the city has been transformed after World War II. Examples of skyscrapers with suspended façades or buildings breaking heights records and facilities related to the car show them what was the Belgian dream of an American city.

 

The private home of the architect Albert Bontridder, avenue Lequime, Rhode-Saint-Genèse, 1958. © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

The private home of the architect Albert Bontridder, avenue Lequime, Rhode-Saint-Genèse, 1958 © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

The Cité Modèle, Chaussée Romaine, Avenue des Citronniers and Avenue de l’Arbre Ballon, Laeken. Architects and urban designers: Renaat Braem, Victor Coolens, the Equerre Group, René Panis, the Structures Group and Jean Van Doosselaere, 1957-1974. © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

The Cité Modèle, Chaussée Romaine, Avenue des Citronniers and Avenue de l’Arbre Ballon, Laeken. Architects and urban designers: Renaat Braem, Victor Coolens, the Equerre Group, René Panis, the Structures Group and Jean Van Doosselaere, 1957-1974 © Archives d’Architecture Moderne, Brussels

A design for the Manhattan Plan in the North district.  Arch. The Structures Group, 1967. © CDP / Fonds pour l’Architecture

A design for the Manhattan Plan in the North district. Arch. The Structures Group, 1967 © CDP / Fonds pour l’Architecture

 

Games invite them to become familiar with the forms of architecture of that time in a fun way. At the end of the visit, the children participate in a creative workshop and realize a model of skyscrapers. Using the examples seen in the exhibition, they use their imagination, cut forms out of cardboard, transform and decorate. Each child puts himself in the shoes of an architect.

 

"Modernika" view of the exhibition © The Atomium

“Modernika” view of the exhibition © The Atomium

"Modernika" view of the exhibition © The Atomium

“Modernika” view of the exhibition © The Atomium

"Modernika" view of the exhibition © The Atomium

“Modernika” view of the exhibition © The Atomium

"Modernika" view of the exhibition © The Atomium

“Modernika” view of the exhibition © The Atomium

 

Modernika is the result of a collaboration between the exhibitions department of the Atomium (Arnaud Bozzini), the ‘ Fonds pour l’Architecture’ (Anne-Marie Pirlot et Lauréline Tissot), the scenography from mandragore#scenography (Michel Bries)  and the graphical design of  SIGN* (Franck Sarfati).

 

D’Ieteren, 50 Rue du Mail, Ixelles. Arch. René Stapels assisted by Robert Bardinet, B. Lefèvre-Feragen, Lemaître and Jamar, 1961-1967. © The D’Ieteren Gallery, Ixelles

D’Ieteren, 50 Rue du Mail, Ixelles. Arch. René Stapels assisted by Robert Bardinet, B. Lefèvre-Feragen, Lemaître and Jamar, 1961-1967 © The D’Ieteren Gallery, Ixelles


 

News source: The Atomium
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