The Hotel Tassel (French: Hôtel Tassel; Dutch: Hotel Tassel) is a townhouse built by Victor Horta in Brussels for the Belgian scientist and professor Emile Tassel in 1893-1894. It is generally considered as the first ever truely Art Nouveau building, because of its highly innovative plan and its ground breaking use of materials and decoration. Together with three other townhouses by Victor Horta, including Horta's own house and atelier, it was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000. It is located at 6, Rue Paul-Emile Jansonstraat in Brussels.
The first townhouse built by Victor Horta was the Maison Autrique. This dwelling was already innovative for its application of a novel 'Art Nouveau' decorative scheme that didn't include references to other historical styles. However the floor plan and spatial composition of the Maison Autrique remained rather traditional. On the deep and narrow building plot the rooms were organised according to a traditional scheme used in most Belgian townhouses at that time.
At the Hôtel Tassel Horta definitively broke with the traditional scheme. In fact he built a house consisting of three different parts. Two rather conventional buildings in brick and natural stone — one on the side of the street and one on the side of the garden — were linked by a steel structure covered with glass. It functions as the connective part in the spatial composition of the house and contains staircases and landings that connect the different rooms and floors. Through the glass roof it functions as a light shaft that brings natural light into the centre of the building. In this part of the house, that could also be used for receiving guests, Horta made the maximum of his skills as an interior designer. He designed every single detail; doorhandles, woodwork, panels and windows in stained glass, mosaic flooring and the furnishing. Horta succeeded in integrating the lavish decoration without masking the general architectural structures.
The innovations made in the Hôtel Tassel would mark the style and approach for most of Horta's later townhouses, including the Hôtel van Eetvelde, the Hôtel Solvay and the architect's own house and 'atelier'. These houses were very expensive and only affordable for the rich 'bourgeoisie' with an 'Avant-Garde' taste. For this reason the pure architectural innovations were not largely followed by other architects. Most of other Art Nouveau dwellings in Belgium and other European countries were inspired by Horta's 'whiplash' decorative style which is mostly applied to a more traditional building.
Hôtel Tassel is currently a private office occupied by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC, www.eufic.org ) and the interior is not accessible to the public.