We visited the royal greenhouses of Laeken (Serres Royales de Laeken) in Brussels two weekends ago. What an impressive structure! Or should I say ‘structures’ since this is in fact a series of greenhouses erected on the Laeken palace grounds? One cannot over-emphasize how impressive the greenhouses are – AB remarked that it looked like a spacecraft, which I completely agree, especially when you look at the aerial photos of it, where it resembles nothing around it.
Designed by Alphonse Balat – under whom Victor Horta studied, and commissioned by Léopold II, this was constructed in 1873. Can you imagine how incredible this massive metal-glass complex must have being during that époque? Little wonder that these greenhouses inspired a new wave of Belgian architectural design, which eventually transpired into what is known as ‘Art Nouveau’ around the world.Winter garden / jardin d’hiver
I really like this description of the royal greenhouses on the Belgian monarchy website:
Le complexe revêt l’apparence d’une ville de verre implantée dans un paysage vallonné. Les pavillons monumentaux, les coupoles de verre, les larges galeries qui parcourent le terrain comme des rues couvertes, sont beaucoup plus qu’une anecdote sur les applications architecturales du fer et du verre ou sur les petites serres de plantes exotiques. Ce que les serres royales expriment concerne l’architecture et, plus précisément, un grand programme de construction : celui du “palais de verre idéal”.
In English: The complex takes on the appearance of a glass city set amid a hilly landscape. The monumental pavillons, glass domes, large galleries that spread across the terrain like covered streets, are much more than just an exercise of the use of iron and glass in architecture or small greenhouses with exotic plants. What the royal greenhouses express is related to architecture and, more precisely, a major construction project – that of an “ideal glass palace”.
For 10 more days, until 12 May 2013, the public will get to admire the impressive royal greenhouses of Laeken (Serres Royales de Laeken) in Brussels. If you’re in Brussels during this time, please be sure to visit. Run, don’t stroll! For more information, here.