The Autrique House (French: Maison Autrique; Dutch: Autrique Huis) was the first townhouse built by Victor Horta in the Art Nouveau style. This house built in 1893 represents an essential step in the evolution of the greatest Belgian architect. In many ways it was an innovative dwelling although it doesn't feature the novel spatial composition of the almost contemporary Hôtel Tassel.
It was built for the engineer Eugène Autrique and his family. Due to budget restrictions the family wanted a simple but comfortable home. For this reason many custom made details, which Horta designed himself in most of the other townhouses he built, were abolished.
The Autrique House was kept in a relatively good condition during the 20th century. In the 1990s it was bought by the municipality of Schaerbeek. It was thoroughly renovated and is now opened to the public.
Built by Horta in 1893 for his friend Eugène Autrique, the Maison Autrique constitutes the missing link between traditional private architecture and the emerging Art Nouveau style. All typical Art Nouveau characteristics are already present in this early work of Horta: fine iron pillars and columns of the façade, sgraffito, stained-glass, mosaics, and importance of natural light and decorative elements of floral inspiration. These characteteristics were to be developed and magnified by Victor Horta and his disciples.
The Maison Autrique was the first townhouse built by Victor Horta. 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. It consisted of a suite of rooms on the left side of the building plot flanked by a rather narrow entrance hall with stairs and a corridor that led to a small garden at the back. From the three room suite only the first and the last had windows so that the middle room (mostly used as a dining room) was rather gloomy.
The Autrique house received in 2005 the Medal of Europa Nostra for "the scrupulous restoration of an early masterpiece of Victor Horta, and for the creation of a scenography which pays tribute to the private architecture of Brussels and opens a door to an imaginary world."
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