Ernest Blerot, the most prolific of his time
The Belgian architect Ernest Blerot was born in Ixelles (Brussels) on 21 February 1870 and died in the same municipality on 19 January 1957. An architecture graduate from the Saint-Luc School in Brussels, he is one of the most interesting protagonists of Art Nouveau in his home city.
At the age of 27, he built his first house, No. 46 Rue Belle-Vue in Brussels, which became his home. From that moment, he devoted himself for seven years to architectural construction, designing houses for the lower middle classes. The architectural design of his realisations strayed little from the standard pattern of single-family Brussels homes at that time, determined partly by the introduction of regulations that defined the width and depth of plots of land in the new residential districts: six metres of facade for a depth of about fifteen metres. The bourgeois houses often featured a semi-subterranean level designed for services (kitchen cellar) surmounted by the raised "bel étage" which was composed of a series of rooms, and two floors for the bedrooms. In order to reduce construction costs as much as possible, he embarked on the creation of terraced houses, such as those on Rue Vanderschrick in Saint-Gilles, which go from No. 1 to No. 25 and which are known as he "Séquence Blerot". Although homogeneous because they were designed by the same man, this group of houses is not standardised. Each house differs from its neighbour by its original decoration. Blerot designed a different facade for each house and each decorative element, both inside and outside, is personalised. He himself created the stained glass windows, sgraffito, ironwork, mosaics, woodwork features and door handles, paying great attention to detail. Realising about 60 houses between 1897 and the start of the Great War, he is one of the most prolific architects of his time.
In 1910, at the age of 40, he married Yvonne de Gheus from Elzenwalle, who was 20 years younger than him. From 1919 onwards, Ernest Blerot devoted himself for ten years to the reconstruction of Elzenwalle Castle in the region of Ypres, which he had inherited from his wife's family. The specific feature of this reconstruction is the fact that the main material used was concrete, produced with the stones from the old castle. Ernest's idea was to integrate plants into the architecture, a specific element of Art Nouveau. He wanted the castle to blend into the surrounding environment so that it would become invisible. Originally, climbing plants covered the external walls.
Over the following 28 years, Blerot was not involved in any architectural work. Fascinated by mechanical engineering, he designed many automobile prototypes.
Visit Brussels organises visits to the architect's home - for further information go to this website.