OBJECT PUBLIC HISTORIC PARK
LOCATION PLACE DU PETIT SABLON - 1000 BRUSSELS
CLIENT REGION DE BRUXELLES-CAPITALE / BELIRIS / BRUXELLES-ENVIRONNEMENT
PARTNERS NEY & PARTNERS ENGINEERING
The Petit Sablon is an enclosed public park in uptown Brussels laid out in 1890 by the illustrious Belgian architect, Henri BEYAERT (1823-1894). It has gained world-wide renown due to its 48 bronze statues representing 16th-century merchants and artisans, even though its elaborate wrought iron railings are equally striking as their innovative design witnesses the birth of the Brussels Art Nouveau movement. In 1972 the Petit Sablon was listed as an urban site.
Beyaert’s project was set up as a thematic park by the Belgian government to celebrate its 60th independence day, the theme being the ‘national’ grandeur of the 16th-century Golden Age. While certainly propagandist in character, the project succeeds in inventing a new kind of urban garden which combines 19th-century arts and crafts (architecture, engineering, landscaping, sculpture, foundry, forge). Surprisingly, in 1890 it was called ‘le square de la place du Petit Sablon’.
If the creation of an ornamental ‘garden square’, complete with a central statue and fountain, gravel paths, benches, marble statues and decorative gardening was in itself an innovation, so too was the design of its fencing, including stone columns, bronze statues and wrought iron railings of innovative design. Clearly, some of the floral motifs are among the first manifestations of Art Nouveau. Beyaert, who took great care over detail, had in his office some of the famous architects of the next generation such as Paul HANKAR (1859-1901), his chief draughtsman and actual designer of the railings.
Restoration work by ARTER started in 2015 and included temporary removal of the statues, railings and columns, and reinforcement of foundation structures. Preliminary work was followed by reassembling the columns and restoring each individual statue and railing by specialist craftsmen.
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