A house signed by Lucien Engels, intact since 1950

In 1954, Lucien Engels signed a terraced house that gave the feeling of a huge holiday accommodation. Thanks to his son Luke, the spirit of the fifties is as intact as his father and Van der Miren’s furniture.

When Luke Engels, the eldest son of Lucien Engels (1928 – 2015), general practitioner and architect at Vilvord, hears that this house, designed by his father, is for sale, he does not hesitate for a second to acquire it … ” It was built in 1953 and completed in 1954. And the interior and furnishings are still completely original.That, the doctor is happy. The place, very bright and open, features the style of this Belgian modernist designer, who spent a lot of time in the shadows. But After all, it represents a one-of-a-kind time capsule that has so many components intact. “My father drew it for the Walravens family. He was a municipal government employee in Wilbur, his wife was a housewife: so their budget was limited. This requires creativity in materials and finishing, explains Luke Engels. An architect’s true talent is revealed through a limited construction budget on a small plot. My dad managed to give a sense of spaciousness here despite the declining levels. He knew how to divide space in such a way that a building actually looked bigger than him. In this home, he even consciously created a holiday home environment. The walls were originally painted in light blue and white stripes. The design of sea liners, such as railings and open stairs, evokes many details. He also emphasizes the stairs in every building he has designed.

Wild colors

This building is special because it was designed at a crucial time in Luke Engels’ career, when he opened his own office.. In fact, before that, between 1950 and 1954, this man was a partner of Roger de Winter, whom he met at La Camber. Their teacher, Louis-Hermann de Koenig, called Engels a “barbarian,” while De Winter was much more rational. The pair have completed dozens of modern accommodations in Villavord. Even if it was De Winter who took care of most of the follow-up, as Engels did his military service in the Belgian Congo in 1952-1953. “At the time he designed the house, he was also working on his large-scale masterpiece, a new wing for Emile Vandervelde II’s house in Oostduinkerke,” the son noted.

Two years ago, the latter decided to completely restore the house to his youngest daughter, who now lives there. And thanks to the careful intervention, we can still feel Lucien Engels’ frantic creativity and enthusiastic enthusiasm. Belief in interior and architectural progress and hope for the post-war building boom of the 1950s. The boy smiled and said, “Look around you, everything you think my father left here.” Although a few turquoise walls are reported to have been repainted in a more neutral gray, Engels’ color palette still explodes from the baseless walls and furniture: A railing with red and white bars. We haven’t changed anything about that, “explained Luke Engels. The biggest transformation was the kitchen. It was originally separated, but with some internal glazing removed from their frame it is now attached to the living space.. “The original exterior windows have already been replaced by ugly PVC. There, I went back, but with double glazing,” our guide added.

International influence

In addition to being an architect, Lucien Engels was also an artist, a globetrotter, and an art designer. He volunteered to collaborate with fellow artisans or artists, such as Rick Putt and Jan Cox, and he liked to incorporate works of art into his creations. So frescoes in the living space. “Originally, Wilwood’s home painter, Pan, created a very colorful mural. But when the plaster needed to be removed during the recovery, we could not save this fresco. I replaced it with one of my dad’s works: an extension of a watercolor from 1971 whose color was good with the interior. When he started, my father had more ambition in architecture than in art, but that changed with age. He was a humble man who lived quite differently in his home in Elliott. But in his work, we feel how much his travels in Congo, Indonesia, Japan, the Middle East, Chicago, New York and San Francisco have influenced him.. He has worked for some time in the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Trade. At the request of the latter, he set up exhibition pavilions in countries such as Nigeria and Iraq. Whenever he returns, a revolution breaks out, Luke’s joke. In the United States, she went on a study tour to see the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Miss Van der Rohe. Even in 1959 he personally met the latter. You can feel the influence of Farnsworth House in his home Elewijt.A

The TV corner immediately plunged back into the atmosphere of time.
The TV corner immediately plunged back into the atmosphere of time. © Jan Verlinde

The interior of the Walravens home is an escape to another era, a place worthy of a movie. Especially since Lucien Engels’s dining room cabinets and chairs are still there. Even Willie van der Miren’s extremely rare potency lamp has been preserved. “In the past, vintage specialist vendors have already tried to capture it, Luke Engels explained. Lucien and Willie knew each other. When I was studying at VUB, I lived in Willie van der Miren’s student quarters. The circle is complete. Why myself?” Don’t you live here? My practice is in Villavord but I’m not from town. My wife and I live in a new building on the green suburbs of Brussels. But my daughter’s friends find this house very nice.

In honor of his father, Lucien, Luke Engels restored the open terraced home in vibrant colors and provided wonderful lighting.
In honor of his father, Lucien, Luke Engels restored the open terraced home in vibrant colors and provided wonderful lighting. © Jan Verlinde

Lucien Engels
– She Born in 1928 Vilbhurde.
– She Trained in architecture at La Cambre And began a collaboration with former Cambrian Roger de Winter.
From 1952 to 1953He left for his military service, then he set up his own office.
– One of his first great works Home in Oostduinkerke Emil Vandervelde II, An order that would begin his career as an interior designer for socialist mutualities. For them, he has designed significantly Caesar de Pepe Polyclinic in Brussels (1961).
In 1959, He met Mies van der Rohe and was inspired by her work, especially for Elewijt (Flemish Brabant) ‘s own home.
– Throughout her life, Lucien Engels continued to draw, paint, create textile collages and design furniture. WhenHe ended his career as an architect in 1988He returned to his paintings, until an advanced age.
He died in 2015.

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