Hidden Belgium: An architectural puzzle

Hidden Belgium: An architectural puzzle

A strange row of eight houses is hidden behind the Sint-Gertrudiskerk in the university town of Leuven.

Known as the Thiery Wing, it was built using bits and pieces of ancient buildings destroyed by the German army in 1914. It is one of the strangest examples of postwar reconstruction anywhere in the world.

This unusual project was proposed by Armand Thiéry, a professor of theology who sat on the committee for the reconstruction of Leuven. He was quite a flamboyant figure in his day.

According to his Wikipedia entry, he was a ‘Belgian philosopher, theologian, professor, mathematician, lawyer, priest and architect.’

Thiéry bought the ruined abbey with the aim of restoring it. He also came up with the unusual idea of using masonry salvaged from 16th and 17th century houses to create a new wing.

The result is an eclectic jumble of Baroque doorways, Renaissance sculpture and modern details.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.


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