Villa Empain

The Villa Empain is a private house in the Art Deco style in Brussels, Belgium built in 1930–1934 by Swiss architect Michel Polak. It was commissioned by Baron Louis Empain, son of the Belgian industrialist Édouard Empain. Since its restoration in 2009–2011, it has been open to the public.

Villa Empain
Bruxelles - Fondation Boghossian-Empain.jpg
View of the Villa Empain from the street front
Alternative namesVilla Roosevelt
General information
TypePrivate house
Architectural styleArt Deco
AddressAvenue Franklin Roosevelt / Franklin Rooseveltlaan 67
Town or cityB-1050 Ixelles, Brussels-Capital Region
Coordinates50°48′26.94″N 4°23′3.12″E / 50.8074833°N 4.3842000°E / 50.8074833; 4.3842000Coordinates: 50°48′26.94″N 4°23′3.12″E / 50.8074833°N 4.3842000°E / 50.8074833; 4.3842000
Construction started1930
ClientLouis Empain
OwnerBoghossian Foundation
Technical details
Floor area2,500 m2 (27,000 sq ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectMichel Polak
Renovating team
ArchitectFrancis Metzger
Renovating firmMetzger et Associés Architecture
Official website



Baron Louis Empain (1908–1976) was the second son of Édouard Empain (1852–1929), a respected Belgian industrialist who had spent much of his career in Egypt. In 1930, he commissioned the Swiss architect Michel Polak to build a large house in the Art Deco style on the edge of the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos in the emerging southern suburbs of Brussels.


Built between 1930 and 1934, the Villa Empain is organised around a large enclosed courtyard. It was designed in the Art Deco style, and the project aroused significant interest in Belgium where prestigious houses in the style were comparatively rare.[2] Various expensive stone facings were used from around the world.


Despite the expense incurred in construction, Louis Empain barely used the house after its completion and lived primarily in Canada. In 1937 it was donated to the Belgian State to house a museum of fine arts for the École nationale supérieure d'Architecture et des Arts décoratifs de La Cambre. It was commandeered by the German Army in November 1943 during the occupation.[2]

After the war, the Villa was ceded to the Soviet Union as an embassy at the initiative of Paul-Henri Spaak. Disapproving of this use, it was reacquired by the Empain family in 1963 and resold in 1973 to Harry Tcherkezian, an Armenian-American tobacco entrepreneur.[2] It was used by Radio-Télévision-Luxembourg (RTL) from 1980 to 1993, before becoming unoccupied after 1995. The building was classified in 2007, but its condition degraded significantly.[2]

In 2007, the Villa was acquired by the Boghossian Foundation.[2] It was restored between 2009 and 2010 and reopened to the public as a museum and cultural centre. The conservation project was awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2011.


Rear of the Villa, showing the large original swimming pool


  • Colors of the Orient, Arts and lifestyles in the Ottoman Empire


  • Of women’s modesty and anger[3]
  • A dream of eternity. The long road of Oriental arts


  • Art is the answer! Contemporary Lebanese artists and designers
  • Edouard and Cleopatra. Egyptomania’s from the XIXth century


  • Turbulences II[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Région de Bruxelles-Capitale (2007), "Hôtel Empain", Inventaire du patrimoine architectural (in French), Brussels, retrieved 23 April 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e Iris Monument.
  3. ^ "Pudeurs et colères de femmes". Exponaute. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Turbulences II". 28 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.


Further readingEdit

  • Roset, C. (1935). "L'hôtel particulier du baron Louis Empain, avenue des Nations, à Bruxelles". La Technique des Travaux (in French). Brussels. 8: 394–401.
  • Flouquet, P.-L. (1938). "Une perle fausse. L'avenue des Nations". Bâtir (in French). 67: 251–252.
  • Maillard, R. (1935). "L'hôtel du baron Louis Empain". Clarté (in French). 8: 1–6.
  • Duquesne, S. (1996). "De residentie van Baron Louis Empain". M&L, het tijdschrift voor Monumenten, Landschappen en Archeologie (in Dutch). 2: 6–20.
  • (in French) Carlo R. Chapelle, La Voie lactée ou quelques notes concernant l'hôtel Empain, Bruxelles, 2007 ].
  • (in French) Hôtel Empain Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67, Online Inventory of the architectural heritage of Brussels online,

External linksEdit

  Media related to Villa Empain at Wikimedia Commons