The short-lived success of the Spirou houses

It is called Spirou style, Boomerang, Expo58, or Fun Architecture.

It came to us in the mid-1950s from the United States, a country that we, Europeans watched with envy and wonder.

SPIROU 7Ten years separated us from the end of world war 2, everything had to be redone on the continent.

We were rebuilding everywhere. The Americans brought us modernity, gleaming cars, individual houses with equipped kitchens, garages and charming little gardens, the famous American “way of life” that many Belgian families dreamed of.

Some architects approached this innovative style with more or less success, abandoning symmetry, rigor and traditional materials, mixing concrete and synthetic materials.

Free rein was given to flat or butterfly wing roofs, to curves, to oblique planes, to the integration of new materials preferably in bright colors, optimism was in order.

SPIROU 8Expo 58, gave a real kick-off to new creations, the futuristic architecture present at the Universal Exhibition, challenged, enchanted, and seduced future owners.

Many houses and villas were built on the outskirts of cities in new created neighborhoods following the increase in population.

SPIROU 4Brussels, but also Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi will see these very special innovative houses emerge from the ground.

The nickname Spirou comes from the publisher Dupuis based in Marcinelle (Charleroi). In the adventures of Spirou and Fantasio, the brilliant cartoonist André Franquin, illustrated his comic strips with avant-garde houses, taking up the architectural codes of this playful style up to the design of interiors and cars…

SPIROU 3This innovative trend will not last very long, from 1955 to 1970 at the latest.

The style was probably a bit too avant-garde for the rather traditional Belgian customers.

A bit like Art Nouveau which broke architectural codes at the turn of the century and lasted only 15 years…

Some “pearls” have nevertheless resisted, the then innovative materials have for many of them not been able to stand the test of time.

The best-preserved ones have fortunately been intelligently maintained or restored like the Villa Woudrand below.

SPIROU 9Today, the 50s style is back through highly sought-after “vintage” furniture, just leaf through the interior design magazines to rediscover them with pleasure.

Contemporary furniture editors reissue the great classics, and reinvent new models largely inspired by the first.

A few pearls to see in Brussels

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