The Hotel Tassel is a town house built by Victor Horta in Brussels for the Belgian scientist and professor Emile Tassel in 1893–1894. It is generally considered as the first true Art Nouveau building, because of its highly innovative plan and its groundbreaking use of materials and decoration. Together with three other town houses of Victor Horta, including Horta's own house and atelier, it was put on the 'UNESCO World Heritage List' in 2000.

The first town house 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 town houses 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.

At the Hôtel Tassel Horta definitively broke with this 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 town houses, including the Hôtel van Eetvelde, the Hôtel Solvay and the architects own house and atelier. It might be superfluous to mention that 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 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.

The Hôtel Tassel had a decisive influence on the French Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard who later developed a personal interpretation of Horta's example.

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Founded: 1893
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User Reviews

Stavros Sygkellakis (14 months ago)
Very good hotel
Mylène DUJARDIN (16 months ago)
Magnificent art nouveau residence. To have !!
Adrien Athrandor d'Erebor (2 years ago)
I think if we go to the Horta museum. It is interesting to stop there in front of it to discover the architecture and to see different works of Horta.
Ricardo Mota (3 years ago)
Visited during BANAD. The tour was quick and we didn't get to see the all building. I think there were other groups that visited the upper floors, but or guide took us to the cellar instead. The house is iconic and so much more than the pictures in an art history book. The feeling of light, openness and the richness of the materials are impressive. The somehow theatrical main facade does not show what the interior is, which is an interesting approach. It's not easy to get to go to this place, and the visit itself was not exactly what I was expecting, but still worth it...
Paolo Sabatinelli (3 years ago)
Amazing house and architecture
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