The Stoclet House is a private mansion designed by architect Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte between 1905 and 1911.
It was built for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet. He gave them an unlimited budget and an artistic freehand. The integration of architects, artists, and artisans of the Wiener Werkstätte makes it an example of Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the defining characteristics of Jugendstil.
Although the marble-clad facade is radically simplified, it contains commissioned works by Gustav Klimt in the dining room, four copper figures at the top by sculptor Franz Metzner, and other craftwork inside and outside the building. Expensive materials were used all over, like Norwegian marble, gilded material and leather.
The mansion is still owned by the Stoclet family and is not open to visitors. Since 2002 it is occupied by 2 caretakers.
Map of Stoclet HouseLoad map
This is the 11th review and I'm probably the only one not rating this as 1 or 1 1/2 stars. Here is the problem: yes, Stoclet house is private, yes, it's CLOSED to anyone, but yes: it's great architecture. So a lot of visitors are expecting it to be open, expecting WHS to be accessible. In fact that is not true and was never a commitment by any state party, at least not when this was inscribed. A lot of houses in France and Belgium are private, even some Le Corbusier that were inscribed are not a "museum" for tourists. I once entered the courtyard of the "Fasanerie" in the Potsdam gardens and the lady made it sarcastically clear that "it's private". Mt Kalesh, Tibet, is not to be climbed and yet it will probably still be inscribed in the next decade or so. My point is, just because it's not accessible doesn't make it a horrible site.
In fact, I made it my goal, after reading all the other reviews, to take pictures from every angle possible, checking out each nook and cranny I can see from the outside. It made for a great visit, and yes of course I'm disappointed I can't go inside and see more of it. It would probably be a 5 star site for me! Because frankly if you can't see the outstanding architecture designs and choices from the outside alone then I think you are just not into architecture. I have seen several buildings getting good review for the outside alone, and the inside is shabby or not the original design anymore. Thus only seeing it from the outside is "good enough" for the moment - and you are not exactly going to visit Brussels for just the 5 minute peek at the Stoclet House, right? Also parking nearby was super easy unlike some other reviews have point out.
I'm rather torn on Stoclet House in Brussels, Belgium. As far as visiting experience goes, I would give it a .5 for its lack of accessibility. But should World Heritage Sites be judged solely by accessibility? Another World Heritage Site in Brussels, the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta only has the interior of one of its four sites regularly available to visitors, while natural sites, such as Surtsey or the Rio Abiseo National Park, also prohibit tourism. There are even World Heritage Sites that prohibit access based on gender, such as Mount Athos and Okinoshima Island. Some sites that limit tourism compensate with museums or replicas, such as the case of the Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc. Others have properties visible from the exterior that compensate for their lack of interior access, such as the Art Nouveau stylings of the Horta houses, or the Usonian architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright's Frank and Katherine Jacob's House. I'm more willing to forgive a site for lack of accessibility if, as a cultural site, they compensate with museums or replicas, or are part of a larger nomination in which other components are visible. For natural sites, I am always in favor of lack of accessibility if it preserves an endangered ecosystem.
As far as the World Heritage Site committee is concerned, accessibility to visitors does not factor into its requirements for inscription. Stoclet House was inscribed because it it was considered a masterpiece of architecture, a crucial example of the Viennese Secession movement, which bridged Art Nouveau architecture with later Art Deco and modernist architecture. Some of this can be seen in the clean lines of the exterior of Stoclet House, with its Art Deco-style tower and plain marble facade. The rich interior--including furniture, sculptures, and mosaics--was another significant factor in the World Heritage Site committee's decision to inscribe the site. However, the interior remains unavailable to visitors.
This is where I particularly fault the committee. If Stoclet House were so worthy to be inscribed, then it would benefit from a museum or exhibit that includes pictures of the interior available to tourists to better understand the significance of the Viennese Seccession style. Another option could have been to propose a serial nomination further exploring Viennese Seccession, perhaps including the Secession Building already inscribed in the Historic Centre of Vienna. Until there is some way to fully appreciate the value of Stoclet House as a World Heritage Site, though, I am afraid it will continue to get poor reviews.
Logistics: Stoclet House is a short walk down the Avenue de Tervueren from the Montgomery station on Brussels Metro; it can also be reached by private transportation. The journey will likely take longer than the visit.
Thomas Harold Watson
I was extremely disappointed with this site. I do not understand why it got a WHS status.
Due to it being a private residence no visitors except friends and family of the people that live there can visit. There are no special days to visit. There is not even a sign. It is an ordinary house, surrounded by high fences and gates to keep people out.
I tried the front doors but nobody was in, so I’m guessing whoever lives here rarely even uses it to live in, as all of the lights were also off.
There is no way of contacting the owners online, so I truly believe that standing outside to get a picture is likely the best you are ever going to get :(
Read more from Thomas Harold Watson here.
As we were driving past Brussels today, we diverted in to take a look at Stoclet House. There is nothing more really to say about this place that others haven't already said, and I am of the view that it is incredibly disappointing that this house cannot be opened to the public. I thought the outside was spectacular but a little ugly.
However I just wanted to mention that for those of you planning to visit with your own vehicle, please be aware that the house falls within the Brussels LEZ. So if your vehicle is eligible to enter the LEZ, then you must register it on the systems within 24 hours of entering the zone. There are simulation tools and a registration form to complete online. For foreign registered vehicles, it is also necessary to upload an electronic copy of your vehicle registration document.
This is a fascinating building and it definitely deserves its WHS status despite a controversy in our community. I could see it, obviously, only from the street of Tervurenlaan two- or three-times during my occasional visits to Brussels (last time in September 2019). I like its austere expansive and now slightly greenish appearance with four monster giants standing on its tower. It is the masterpiece of Gesmtkunstwerk designed by architect Josef Hoffmann.
During endless waiting for its opening for public, I would like to recommend visiting of the birthplace of mister architect. He was born in small Moravian town Brtnice with well-preserved historical core, located in today’s Czechia. It is a very pleasant place, reachable from Prague via Jihlava (I grew up there). There is quite frequent bus connection from Jihlava bus station to Brtnice. The former house of Hoffmann parents is located on the main square, and now, there is the Josef Hoffmann Museum (PHOTO). Even though Hoffmann left house of his parent quite early and went to Vienna, he liked this place and returned quite often for short vacations. He also designed parts of interior of this originally baroque building with yellow façade. It has been recently reconstructed to its appearance in times of Hoffmann. In the museum, there is a permanent exhibition about his life with the display of his designs such as furniture, glassware, etc. On could see also equipment designed specially for Stoclet house (for example the cutlery set Stoclet) or sketches of the Palais.
Highly recommended, if you are in the area! WHSs Třebíč, Telč and Zelená Hora are not far from here.
There is very little that I can add to what the other reviewers said before me about this underwhelming site. The optics of bestowing a World Heritage designation on something that you can only view from a distance through the fence definitely feel wrong. It is clearly an unusual building - and all available descriptions of the interior suggest that it would be marvelous to explore - but until such time that it becomes possible, any visit would be unsatisfactory.
That being said, checking this site off your list is pretty easy if you are already in Brussels. Stoclet House is located some distance from the city center, but a taxi ride there and back will not burn a hole in you wallet. The ride did not take 15 minutes one way. I got the driver to park and wait for me while I gazed at and took a few pictures of the building through the aforementioned fence for about another 10 minutes. At the current limits of accessibility, I have no problem counting the site as visited on the strength of making an effort.
Read more from Ilya Burlak here.
As many other people have noted in their reviews, this is an extremely frustrating site. Technically speaking, you can't really "visit" as it is privately owned and not open to the public.
I tried pulling all the strings I could with the Brussels and Flanders Tourism boards (I'm a travel photographer) and there was nothing they could do.
As far as I know only one group has been allowed in, in the last decade, and they were friends of the owners.
What is especially frustrating is that the facade of the structure doesn't even face the street. What you can see is actually the back of the house.
From everything I have read, the interior of the building is stunning and it is really worthy of world heritage status. Until the family can come to some sort of resolution, we have to wait visit this fine building.
Read more about the Stoclet House on my website.
I have a real problem with this place - how can you have a World Heritage Site that is basically inaccessible to the public? Shouldn't the point be that the general population gets to see and experience the wonders that history has left us?
But then, at the same time, if something is worthy of being listed should it not be included just because it is private. Maybe that's the thought process.
Either way, it's disappointing and annoying to me. You can see the exterior from the street but that's not really a good enough way to appreciate the architecture of the place.
I hope something might change at some point in the future - the local authorities buying it and opening it, for example.
Read more from Michael Turtle here.
I visited this WHS this Summer 2012. It can only be viewed from the outside as it is a private residence. The main entrance is being restored but the rest of the site is in a very good shape. It looks quite strange and unpleasant to the eye at first but it was built this way on purpose to deter passers-by from the artistic treasures it houses inside. The fact that it was inscribed as a WHS prevented the owners from altering or demolishing the whole site to sell the land for some multi-storey building or yet another embassy to be built. It is truly unique and hopefully in the near future the owners will decide to open parts of this WHS to the public.
Switzerland/Peru - 12-Apr-10 -
I must admit that I only visited the Stoclet house because it’s on the list and I want to visit as many sites as possible. I’m not sure if it was a wise decision to inscribe it on the list yet. I somehow have the romantic idea that a “World Heritage” should be accessible to the world, which in April 2010 was still not the case. From the few existing pictures I know that the interior must be magnificent, but all one can see by now is a not incredibly exciting façade from only one side of the house. I rather felt like a stalker than a tourist, going there and taking a few pictures. The good thing about the house is that it’s in Brussels, a city with three other WHS. So if you’re there stop by for a moment. It’s an easy one to tick off your list. Unfortunately that’s all.
I arrived by car in the affluent suburb of Brussels where the Stoclet House is located. Lots of Embassies here, and ample parking spaces reserved for the privileged Corps Diplomatique. While looking for a place to park my humble Audi, I passed by the famous house no less than 3 times. I stole a quick glance every time, noticing with some excitement a female caretaker brushing away the leaves on the grounds (is she one of the two caretakers that live in the house?).
Can I say that I find the exterior of the house extremely ugly? It almost looks like a factory among the more conservative villas in this neighborhood. That greenish, almost weathered look. The total value of the residence is estimated at 100 million EUR - one would never guess that just from looking from the outside. I read that the facade was intended to be austere, as to protect the private life of the Stoclet family.
There's a huge fence around the house. However, it's possible to take photos at different angles from the sidewalk. The tower, with the sculptures, seems to be undergoing restorations at the moment.
The house is situated at the Avenue de Tervuren 281. As every visit to this monument is a very short one, it's a good option to combine it with a trip to the (Central) Africa Museum in the nearby village of Tervuren. I had been there before: it's almost a museum about a museum. Since 1910, it has introduced Belgians to Africa (mainly to the former Belgian colony of Congo). Lots of stuffed wild animals. Stoclet has a Congo link too: Adolphe Stoclet used to be the owner of the Société Générale de Belgique, a Belgian holding and investment company with numerous properties in Congo (mines etc).
At the moment the museum features an exhibition on the Ethiopian Omo Valley. It details the symbolism in the clothing, attributes and body decorations of the various Omo tribes. The museum also has an atmospheric cafe that serves African food. And that's where I ended this relaxing day out.
This private residence is located just outside central Brussels, a short walk from Montgomery metro station.
It is a fine example of Secession architecture, (this was the Austrian Art Nouveau School). Its straight lines show the emerging influence of modernism. It was designed by Josef Hoffman, and there was a large input from other craftsman such as Franz Metzner who sculpted the four figures that crown the top of the building (unfortunately hidden behind scaffolds when I visited).
As this is a private residence at the moment the only thing that can be seen is the exterior. However, as with the nearby works of Victor Horta, the interior is what makes this house so incredible. It is dripping with mosaics by Gustav Klimt, the most famous of which are in the dinning room. Photos of them are hard to come by but here are a few including the dining room which seems to be incredible. All aspects of the house were designed in unison so the mosaics, furniture, light fittings and even cutlery are all designed to complement each other. The close collaboration of all the craftsmen, artist and architects make this a real Gesamtkunstwerk.
Unfortunately the future of the Palace is in jeopardy, whilst the exterior is protected the interior is not, and it seems that three of the four great grand daughters that now own the house are wanting to sell of the mosaics and paintings. This is a good article that details the ongoing family dispute regarding the property and its contents.
I sincerely hope that this property can be added to the World Heritage list, it is a candidate in 2009, and hopefully this can help keep the building and all its contents together. Hopefully this may even open up the interior so more people can see this incredible work of art.
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