(b. 1862, Elsene, d. 1952, Elsene)

Old England department store

Rue Villa Hermosa 1, Brussels

The Old England department store was a large retailer in downtown Brussels, partially housed in the Art Nouveau building constructed by Paul Saintenoy, who was strongly influenced by the architecture of Victor Horta and Paul Hankar.

Using a steel superstructure, Saintenoy negotiated the rather narrow lot that sloped significantly and curved along the line of the street, designing a six-storey building that used the main façade balanced around a projecting central oriel bay itself crowned by a high arched attic. The building's expansive curtain walls of glass over the entire façade maximise the influx of natural light. The octagonal oriel tower at the northwest corner of the building begins on the third floor and terminates in a lacy steel pergola that uses the structural frame of a cupola's spire.

After Old England moved out in 1972, the building was bought by the Belgian government. By 2009, a thorough restoration was completed. The building is one of the best examples of the Art Nouveau style in Brussels; it houses today the Musical Instruments Museum.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.