Sad End to a Total Work of Art

John Hill, Manuel Pestalozzi
8. March 2022
The idiosyncratic residence was a landmark in German-speaking Eupen, Belgium. (Photo: Alter Fritz/cropped from original at Wikimedia Commons)

Yves Delhez, who studied in Liège, was a flamboyant architect and one of the outstanding cultural personalities in the small border town of Eupen. His houses are reminiscent of Smurf habitats, to laypeople at least, while people more knowledgeable of architecture might associate his work with that of American architect Bruce Goff or Hungarian architect Imre Makovecz. Delhez co-founded IKOB, the local museum of contemporary art, in 1992, and he made a name for himself as a renovator and addition to Haus Rotenburg 33, which is considered an important regional monument. In 2016, the architect died in a fatal traffic accident.

Haus Rotenburg 33 in Eupen. (Photo: ArthurMcGill/Wikimedia Commons)

Central to Delhez's architectural legacy was his own residence in Eupen's lower town. With its expressive roofs, layered stones and other materials left raw, and a discreet color scheme of ceramic shards, it was a striking local landmark. In the first days of March, it caught on fire and burned down. According to the news portal, arson cannot be ruled out. The house had been empty since the architect's death and had been repeatedly visited by vandals. There were plans on the part of an investor, Yannic Maraite, to buy the house and make it accessible to the public. The question remains whether a reconstruction is possible — or whether the ruins of the solid substructure could be the inspiration for an innovative reinterpretation of Delhez's original work.

A version of this article was first published as "Trauriges Ende eines Gesamtkunstwerks" on German-Architects.

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