Belgian architect and furniture designer
Paul Hankar trained as a sculptor but he graduated as an architect in Brussels, Belgium. He also learned the wrought-iron technique. In 1888, he began an architecture and furniture designer practice in Brussels and worked with interior designer and specialist of sgraffiti A. Crespin. In 1893 he built his own house, which is considered as one of the first Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels, along with "Hotel Tassel" by Victor Horta. In 1894 he collaborated to the architecture magazine L'Emulation and worked for the diffusion of the new style in Belgium.
For the Brussels World Exposition in 1897, he collaborated with other Belgian architects, such as H. Van de Velde, G. Serrurier-Bovy and G. Hobé. At the end of his life he elaborated an utopist project for a "city of Artists", which will never be realized, but which has inspired the Darmstadt Künsterkolonie and the Viennese Secession artists.
Inspired by the works of French architect Viollet-le-Duc and of the English Arts and Crafts Movement (lead by W. Morris), Paul Hankar was one of the major Art Nouveau artists in Brussels. He developed the concept of a popular art, designed for the less privileged social classes. Moreover, in order to achieve a decorative synthesis of the arts, he assembled avant-garde decor ornaments, new geometric details and sculptures in a more classical construction.
For his architectural works, Hankar played with the contrast between materials of different colors, shapes and textures, achieved by various applied arts techniques. He used wrought-iron on apparent structural elements of the house façade, such as bow-windows and balconies, as well as fresco and sgraffiti techniques, which would later also developed by Belgian architect P. Cauchie in Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels.
Maison Hankar, Rue Defacqz 71, Brussels, Belgium (1893)
Maison Ciamberlani and Maison Janssens, Rue Defacqz 48-50, Brussels (1897)
Former Chemiserie Niguet Shop, Rue Royale 13, Brussels (1899)