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Brussels to ban parking in front of historic Art Nouveau buildings

08:45 05/12/2022

Next year will be the Year of Art Nouveau in Brussels, and one measure the capital is undertaking to highlight the city’s most treasured architecture is a ban on parking in front of historic monuments and buildings.

Brussels secretary of state Pascal Smet (Vooruit/ announced the measure when presenting the programme for next year’s celebration of all things Art Nouveau.

“Brussels is the capital of Art Nouveau – we will be highlighting this both in the coming months and in the long term,” Smet said.

“Next year we will organise numerous events and open Art Nouveau pearls to the general public. As many people as possible should be given the chance to discover these showpieces. The inhabitants of Brussels can be proud of their heritage.”

But, Smet indicated, it can be hard to even see this heritage when buildings and monuments are blocked by car parks and lorries.

Beginning next year, cars, trucks and other vehicles will be banned from parking in front of buildings that are designated as part of the capital’s cultural and historical heritage, such as the Horta Museum in Saint-Gilles or the Solvay Hotel, a building designed by Victor Horta on Avenue Louise that is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

“This means that all cars parked in front of listed monuments, including Art Nouveau, will be removed,” Smet told RTBF.

“It's incomprehensible when you are, for example, in front of the Solvay Hotel and you see a van or a lorry in front of it. It's not right.”

Smet also pointed out that many European cities have already banned parking in front of their protected buildings.

The Brussels government is set to ratify the measure in 2023, which will apply to listed buildings on both regional and municipal roads.

It will also apply to parking in front of private homes on the historical register, meaning even the occupants themselves will not be able to park in front of their own house.

“In general, there are other parking spaces in the neighbourhood,” Smet said.

The number of buildings concerned is about 4,000 properties, with around 1,000 in the garden city district of Logis-Floréal in Watermael-Boitsfort alone. This residential area is protected as a whole, single monument - and the parking ban will not apply there.

The idea in general is that without the obstruction of vehicles, these gems will be more easily showcased to the public.

Belgium has played a key role in the Art Nouveau movement, which took root at the end of the 19th century.

“Brussels has about 1,000 Art Nouveau buildings and more than 200 of them are protected as historical monuments, both individually and as a whole,” said Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort. “That is a huge tourist asset.”

In 2023, a number of these iconic buildings will be opened to the public. There will also be visits to renovation sites, guided tours of the city, workshops for arts and crafts, and temporary exhibitions at Bozar, Train World, the Comic Strip Museum, and other such places.

“We are too modest compared to cities like Barcelona, which are putting their heritage on display,” said secretary of state Smet.

“But in reality, the capital of Art Nouveau is Brussels.”

Written by Helen Lyons