When banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet commissioned this house from one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann, in 1905, he imposed neither aesthetic nor financial restrictions on the project. The house and garden were completed in 1911 and their austere geometry marked a turning point in Art Nouveau, foreshadowing Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture. Stoclet House is one of the most accomplished and homogenous buildings of the Vienna Secession, and features works by Koloman Moser and Gustav Klimt, embodying the aspiration of creating a ‘total work of art' (Gesamtkunstwerk). Bearing testimony to artistic renewal in European architecture, the house retains a high level of integrity, both externally and internally as it retains most of its original fixtures and furnishings.
© Robberechts-Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / UNESCO
Outstanding Universal Value
The Stoclet House is an outstanding testimony to the creative genius of the Wiener Werkstätte. It was designed and built in Brussels from 1905 to 1911 by one of the founders of the movement, the Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann, of whose work it is the masterpiece. The Vienna Secession movement bears witness to a profound conceptual and stylistic renewal of Art Nouveau. Ever since its creation the Stoclet House has been and remains one of the most consummate and emblematic realisations of this artistic movement, characterising the aesthetic research and renewal of architecture and decoration in the west at the start of the 20th century. The Stoclet House decoration was the work of a very large number of artists from the Wiener Werkstätte, including Koloman Moser, Gustav Klimt, Frantz Metzner, Richard Luksch, and Michael Powolny. They worked under the guidance of Hoffmann to achieve a Gesamtkunstwerk (‘total work of art’), which is expressed simultaneously in every dimension – interior and exterior architecture, decoration, furniture, functional objects, and the gardens and their flower beds. From its creation the House inspired many architects in Belgium and other countries. It heralded Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture. It bears witness to the influence of the Vienna Secession, and the dissemination of its ideas in Europe at the start of the 20th century. It bears witness to a monument of outstanding aesthetic quality and richness, intended as an ideal expression of the arts. A veritable icon of the birth of modernism and its quest for values, its state of preservation and conservation are remarkable.
Criterion (i): Created under the supervision of the architect and interior designer Josef Hoffmann, the Stoclet House is a masterpiece of the creative genius of the Vienna Secession through its aesthetic and conceptual programme of Gesamtkunstwerk, through its architectural vocabulary, through its originality, and through the exceptional quality of its decoration, of its furniture, of its works of art and of its garden. It is a remarkably well conserved symbol of constructive and aesthetic modernity in the west at the start of the 20th century.
Criterion (ii): Drawing on the values of the Vienna Secession and its many artists, including Koloman Moser and Gustav Klimt, the Stoclet House was recognised from the beginning as one of the most representative and refined works of this school. Created in Brussels, a key location for Art Nouveau, it exercised a considerable influence on modernism in architecture and on the birth of Art Deco.
Integrity and Authenticity
The Stoclet House has great integrity in its external architecture, its interior architecture and decoration, its furniture, and its garden. All the elements necessary for the expression of this value are included in the nominated property. It has not undergone any major alterations. The buildings around the House and its urban environment have undergone few modifications. The only new building of any size in its vicinity has been designed in a way which allows for its presence in terms of the landscape integrity of the nominated property. The Stoclet House and all its elements are authentic.
Management and protection requirements
The management of conservation meets the most demanding criteria and international standards. The detailed programming of the works that have already been carried out would benefit from being extended to include work in the interior and in the garden.>
Adolphe Stoclet (1871-1949) came from a family of bankers. His first career was as a railway engineer. He then married Suzanne Stevens, daughter of the art critic Arthur Stevens. Stoclet was an eminent art lover and collector.
When working on the construction of a railway in Austria, he became fascinated by the Vienna Secession movement, its innovative spirit, and its avant-garde works. His meeting with Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) was a decisive one. The architectural and decorative work of Hoffmann, and more generally the creativity of the Secession group, seemed in Stoclet's view to perfectly define what a bourgeois family residence should be, in phase with its time in aesthetic and moral terms, and also in its modernity and functionality.
Called back to Belgium on the death of his father, Stoclet succeeded him at the head of the Société Générale, a major Belgian bank. He then decided to establish his family residence in Brussels, calling in Hoffmann and his Secession colleagues so that the group's artistic and architectural principles could be applied unhindered.
The specification was entirely functional. In addition to housing the family, the residence was to provide a setting for a large art collection; it was to permit musicians and artists to give private concerts; it was also to offer the best possible conditions for welcoming distinguished guests and friends. Hoffmann and the artists of the Secession were given a free hand, but they had numerous meetings with Stoclet, for whom the construction of the residence was the accomplishment of a work of art in which he was participating both aesthetically and intellectually.
At the time of the commission Hoffmann was at the pinnacle of his art. Not only was his own architectural work already widely acclaimed, it was he who had designed from the outset the exhibitions of the Secession, of which he was one of the co-founders. He was also a teacher, which allowed him to have a significant influence on the new generation of artists from Vienna and more widely from Central Europe. In the critical spirit of the Secession, which aimed to renew the principles of an Art Nouveau movement that was increasingly influential at the time, Hoffmann had already designed several remarkable villas and residences; he was just completing the Purkersdorf Sanatorium. The Stoclet project, on which no restrictions would be imposed, came at just the right time: Hoffmann was able to gather around him the most outstanding creative members of the Viennese artistic movement. He was able to advance and take further his stylistic research, moving even farther away from the initial influences of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement, towards an exaltation of simple and geometrical forms, an austere primitive ideal, and total integration of the different art forms to serve the project. The same idiom is in evidence in the exterior and interior architecture, in the decoration and the furniture, and in the gardens and the approaches.
Designed in 1905, the House was built without interruption from 1906 to 1911.
The Stoclet family occupied the mansion continuously as its private residence until 2002, when the Baroness Annie Stoclet died. Since then the House has been managed by the real estate company ‘Suzanne and Adolphe Stoclet' (SAS), the directors of which are the descendants of the founder and heirs of the House. Today the building is only permanently lived in by two caretakers.
The House has not undergone any major change in its history. There have been minor alterations of a functional or technical nature, and maintenance work has been carried out to preserve its integrity. The main changes made are as follows:
- The German occupation authorities removed the bronze elements from the roof during World War I. These were afterwards replaced by the owners in conformity with the initial plans.
- The entrance porch leading into the street was enlarged in 1954 when the garden was extended by the purchase of an adjacent plot.
- Terrace waterproofing works were carried out in the late 1980s.
- In the 2000s, the tiling of the entrance porch threshold was replaced, and the door and window frames of the west and then the south facades were repainted; the wooden garden shed was rebuilt according to Hoffmann's plans and new boilers were installed.
- The electrical wiring was brought into compliance with standards in 1950, and again in 2006.
No change has been made to the interior of the building, apart from the restoration of some items of furniture and the replacement of some furnishing fabrics, in conformity with the originals. Some carpets and light fittings have been placed in the attic, where they await restoration. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation