Sint-Joost-ten-Node Wonen in Brussel

Lifetime of a house


In this street, the house stands on a corner. Ever since there were still two churches in the street, the house has been there.

With its stuccoed ceilings, with its more than twenty rooms, with its doors unknown to me, with its entrance in white marble, with its stairs leaving one in tunnel-visioned awe, with its oak wooden floors, grandeur shines off this relic of old glory. Even in times of glass construction, it hasn’t lost a bit of its impressiveness.

A doctor had come to inhabit the house. He paid the money for it. It was his. He was now entitled to arrange the house to his needs. That is what houses are for. And so he did.

A lift would be far more comfortable than the majestic but tiring stairs. The living room would become the doctor’s cabinet. It was only a matter of adding a small sink to allow him to wash his hands in between patients. A new side entrance would give access to a waiting lounge, from where a parallel hallway – for patients only – would lead to the cabinet. And right under the five meter high ceiling of the former dining room, there was just enough space left for a low larder.

The new layout served the doctor well. For fifteen years or so patients came and went until he changed occupations. The doctor had only been one of many generations who briefly occupied the house and called it home: a layer of paint coming of its walls, nothing more.