When walking down the street in Antwerp, It was not the first time we were perplexed by the beauty of the building in the Volkstraat in Antwerp. Looking all mysterious, we took a closer look and discovered this building is a school, more specifically a Steiner school. Aside from what we think about their methodology, we thought it was an interesting take on an educational environment. Would the ideology of these schools have something to do with the choice for this type of building?
First let us give you a closer look of the building. As you can see its very colorful, has lots of ornaments and curved lines. This building is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau: a style we are familiar with in Belgium thanks to famous Belgian architect Victor Horta. But maybe you never heard of Jan Van Asperen and Emiel Van Averbeke who designed the building we’re reviewing. There still are a few question marks concerning the involvement of the latter. But it certainly was Jan Van Asperen who was asked by the Federal Union to build an impressive ‘House of people’ and who designed the facade. And it became a masterpiece. With the Art Nouveau style, less is not more and this is also noticeable here: the curly forgings, the multiple towers, the many decorations,… Main theme of the building is labor, you can look for the different mosaics portraying a sowing farmer, a joiner, a stonecutter and an ironworker. But time goes by and since 1990 the building houses a Steiner school. A coincidence?
After some research we discovered another extraordinary building linked to a Steiner school: The sundial in Leuven. At first site this building seems to be the total opposite of the ‘House of people’. Where the first is very embellished, soberness prevails at The sundial. Resurrected in a completely different style, namely early modernism, it was built by architect Jean de Ligne. He used the space to its full advantage with an original implantation as a result. Previously known as Foyer Remy this building was part of the Remy factories. Striking is the interplay of relations with a minimal use of materials. A powerful building that stimulates the imagination…
Is there a reason that Steiner schools feel so comfortable in these extraordinary buildings? Well after some digging we discovered that Rudolf Steiner believed in organic architecture. According to him buildings should have a living quality, have their own personality to inspire the people who live or work in it. And that’s just what these two buildings seem to be doing!
© I Love Belgium
I LOVE BELGIUM
pictures courtesy of Flickr