Belgium: Architecture and Design

6 Sep – 16 Sep 2017

  • Region:
    • Belgium
    • Europe
  • Status: closed
  • Code: 21735
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Tour Highlights

  • With architecture and design writer Stephen Crafti, explore the very best of Belgium’s contemporary art, architecture, furniture and fashion in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp.
  • Based in the 5-star Warwick Brussels, begin in Brussels, Art Nouveau capital, with a visit to architect Victor Horta’s private house and studio.
  • By special appointment, visit the interiors of the Maison Autrique, Hôtel Van Eetvelde, Hôtel Max Hallet and the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Hôtel Solvay, which features a decorated staircase, mosaic floor, painted walls, wrought iron work and custom designed furniture.
  • Tour the Musée David et Alice van Buuren, a private house containing sublime furnishings, stained glass and fine art.
  • View exceptional 19th-century art in the Musée Fin-de-Siècle and the Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte’s paintings in the Magritte Museum.
  • Visit the Art & Design Atomium Museum dedicated to 20th-century art and design.
  • By special appointment visit Studio With A View – an innovative artist hub for designers.
  • Accompanied by interior designer Danny Venlet, explore contemporary interiors including Danny’s own private home and studio, architect Ivo Van Hamme’s private house, and the Mode and Design Centre.
  • Discover Ghent’s new Market Hall with award-winning architect Marie-José Van Hee.
  • Survey Ghent’s Design Museum.
  • With architects Dries Vens and Maarten Vanbelle (partners of Atelier Vens Vanbelle) view a number of their projects including a copper-clad extension to a traditional Belgian farmhouse, and their award-winning Gewad apartments.
  • In Antwerp, based in the 4-star boutique Hotel Julien, visit the atelier of fashion and costume designer Tim Van Steenbergen.
  • Enjoy a private tour of Antwerp’s Atelier Theo Eyewear and visit Ganterie Boon, a family business specializing in Peccary and Chevreaux leather gloves.
  • Tour the home of Renaat Braem (1910-2001), considered one of the finest representatives of Belgium’s Mid-century Modern, and Middelheim’s open-air museum’s modern sculpture collection.
  • Take an architecture tour of Antwerp including visits to the exterior of Le Corbusier’s Maison Guiette (1926), the MAS, Zaha Hadid’s Port House, finishing with dinner at Restaurant Het Pomphuis which occupies an old pump house in Antwerp’s harbour area.
  • Meet with Rienk Wiersma, a senior designer from the Dutch company Piet Boon; and enjoy a Farewell Lunch at The Jane which features bespoke pieces by Beirut-based PSlab and stained glass windows illustrated by Studio Job.

11-day Architecture and Design Tour of Belgium

Overnight Brussels (6 nights) • Antwerp (4 nights)


The following itinerary lists a range of museums, galleries, buildings and design projects which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission, which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in museum opening hours and privately hosted visits. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch, and D=evening meal.

Brussels - 6 nights

Day 1: Wednesday 6 September, Arrive Brussels
  • Airport transfer for participants arriving on the ‘ASA’ designated flight
  • Maison Margiela
  • Light Evening Meal at La Manufacture Restaurant

Group members arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to our hotel after clearing customs. If you are arriving independently please make your own way to the Warwick Brussels, which is ideally located in the historic centre, 300m from the Grand Place (Grote Markt).

At approximately 4.00pm there will be a short orientation meeting at the hotel followed by an afternoon excursion to visit the store of Maison Margiela.

Maison Margiela, formerly Maison Martin Margiela, is a French luxury fashion house headquartered in Paris and founded in 1988. Belgian designer Martin Margiela, graduated from the Antwerp Academy in 1980 and went on to work as an assistant to Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris in 1984. In 1989 he staged his first show in Paris under his own label, founding the ‘Maison Martin Margiela’ together with Jenny Meirens. In his collections themes such as the reproduction of materials and the deconstruction of patterns and shapes are often interwoven. In 2009, Margiela discreetly retired from the Maison that carried his name.

Our day ends with a light group meal at La Manufacture, a sleek industrial-style restaurant housed in the former Delvaux leather factory, serving French cuisine with an oriental twist.

We return to our hotel on foot via the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Grand Place, which is beautifully lit in the evenings. Historically, the Grand Place was a market place where traders and citizens sold and bought food. All the streets surrounding the square are named after food like chicken (poulet), herbs (herbes), cheese (fromage) and so forth. Nowadays you will see grand old buildings standing in the place of market shelters. (Overnight Brussels) D

Day 2: Thursday 7 September, Brussels
  • Ampersand House (by special appointment)
  • Horta Museum, Saint-Gilles
  • Hôtel Solvay (by special appointment), Ixelles
  • Hôtel Max Hallet (by special appointment)
  • Art Nouveau coach tour, including exteriors of Maison Hankar, Maison Ciamberlani, Hotel Tassel and Hotel Hannon
  • Welcome Dinner at Le Belga Queen

We begin this morning with a visit to Ampersand House, a 19th-century private maison which exhibits an evolving collection of 20th-century furniture, design and art objects. Specialists in mid-century art and design, the gallerists work with an international network of artists, designers and co-curators to bring together special exhibitions as well as source unique and bespoke objects.

Brussels is the capital of Art Nouveau and magnificent structures throughout the capital city are recognised as ‘world heritage’ by UNESCO. At the turn of the 19th century Brussels went through a period of unrivaled effervescence. The middle classes, merchants and artists opted to have their houses built in the style in vogue: Art Nouveau, marking the beginning of modern architecture and design. The Austrian architect Josef Hoffman and painter Gustav Klimt, the French architect Hector Guimard all joined the Belgian architects Victor Horta, Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, the furniture designer Serrurier-Bovy and the jeweller Philippe Wolfers to get their inspiration.

We begin our study of Brussels Art Nouveau with a guided tour of the Horta Museum, located in the private house and studio of architect Victor Horta (1861-1947). Built between 1898 and 1901 at 23-25, rue Américaine in Saint-Gilles, the two buildings are typical of Art Nouveau at its height. The interior decoration has largely been retained, the mosaics, stained glass, and wall decorations forming a harmonious and elegant whole, down to the last detail.

Led by a specialist guide from ARAU (Atelier de Recherche et d’Action Urbaines) we take a coach tour of the Art-Nouveau buildings of Saint-Gilles and Ixelles.

By special appointment, we view the interiors of both the Hôtel Solvay and the Hôtel Max Hallet. The UNESCO world-heritage listed Hôtel Solvay is a luxurious residence built by Victor Horta in 1894 for the Solvay family. The 33-year old architect was given a complete freedom and unlimited funds to design the interior and furnishings. This is generally considered the most ambitious and spectacular work of Horta in the Art Nouveau period. It features a decorated staircase, mosaic floor, painted walls, wrought iron work and custom furniture.

Also on avenue Louise, Horta’s restored Hôtel Max Hallet, is a comparatively restrained structure of 1904 where the straight, slender façade is decorated with elegant doors and windows plus an elongated stone balcony with a wrought-iron balustrade.

From the Max Hallet residence we continue our tour viewing the exteriors of Roosenboom House designed by Albert Roosenboom a pupil of Victor Horta; the Maison Hankar and Maison Ciamberlani – both designed by architect Paul Hankar; Hôtel Tassel by Victor Horta 1893-1897; Hotel Otlet by architect Octave van Rysselberghe and Henry van de Velde and Hôtel Hannon by architect Jules Brunfaut.

A short walk from our hotel takes us past Galleries St Hubert (featuring designer furniture stores, Delvaux leather and chocolate shops) to the restaurant Le Belga Queen, where we enjoy a Welcome Dinner. In a landmark building dating from the 18th century, interior architect and restaurant owner Antoine Pinto has created an establishment breaking away from the traditional brasserie. Here, contemporary architecture and gastronomy meet each other in an amazing way. (Overnight Brussels) BD

Day 3: Friday 8 September, Brussels
  • Guided tour of Musée Fin-de-Siècle
  • Christa Reniers, Grand Sablon
  • Pierre Marcolini Chocolate, Grand Sablon
  • Guided tour of the Musée René Magritte
  • Studio with a View (by special appointment)

This morning we take a guided tour of Brussels’ Musée Fin-de-Siècle, dedicated to arts and crafts at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Opened in 2013, the museum includes displays of paintings, contemporary photography, architecture, film, music and literature – and a home for the outstanding collection of Art Nouveau furniture and decorative art work donated by the Gillion-Crowet family in 2006.

Artists represented include Belgian painters such as the impressionist-influenced Hippolyte Boulenger and Guillaume Vogels, the powerful imagery of Léon Spilliaert, and the remarkable expressionist and surrealist painter and printmaker, James Ensor. Major international figures are also well-represented with works by Van Gogh, the Pre-Raphaelite, Byrne Jones, and the key French artists of the time, including three contrasting works by Gauguin, sculpture by Rodin and paintings by Bonnard, Sisley and Seurat.

Following our tour of the museum, we walk to the Grand Sablon where there will be time at leisure for lunch and to visit the store of contemporary jeweller, Christa Reniers. Time permitting, we also visit the Pierre Marcolini Haute Chocolaterie. Marcolini’s creations are designed in collaboration with Tom Dixon, stylist Olympia Le-Tan and fashion designer Kitsuné.

In the afternoon we take a guided tour of the museum devoted to displaying works by Brussels’ most famous modern artist, the Surrealist painter René Magritte. The Musée René Magritte displays some 200 original paintings, drawing and sculptures, mostly donated by his wife Georgette and by his principal collector, Irène Hamoir Scutenaire. This is the world’s largest collection of Magritte’s work.

By special appointment, we end the day visiting Studio With A View – an innovative artist hub for designers, artists and textile designer. Current designers include Raphaël Charles, Maarten de Ceulaer, Damien Gernay and Laure Kasiers, who specialises in hand-crafted rugs and accessories. (Overnight Brussels) B

Day 4: Saturday 9 September, Brussels
  • Morning guided coach tour of Schaerbeek and Quartier des Squares, including the interiors Maison Autrique and the Hôtel van Eetvelde (by special appointment)
  • Interior tour of Cauchie House (by special appointment)
  • Emery & Cie

The sleepy farming village of Schaerbeek was completely transformed in the early years of the twentieth century for the city’s burgeoning middle classes, many of whom employed the period’s best architects to design their new homes. Victor Horta, Gustave Strauven, François Hemelsoet and Henri Jacobs were just four of the architects who reinvented family houses, apartment buildings and educational buildings in the Art Nouveau style.

Accompanied by a specialist guide, we take a morning tour of this district which will include interior visits of the Maison Autrique and the Hôtel van Eetvelde. The Autrique House was the first town house built by Victor Horta in the Art Nouveau style. This house built in 1893 represents an essential step in the evolution of the greatest Belgian architect. Located in the nearby Quartier des Squares, the Hôtel van Eetvelde is a town house designed in 1895 by Victor Horta for Edmond van Eetvelde, Minister for the Congo Free. Its interior is a Horta masterpiece studded with exotic timbers and sporting a central glass dome infused with African-inspired plant motifs.

Following some time at leisure for lunch we take a guided tour of Cauchie House, considered to be one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau masterpieces in Brussels. It was built in 1905 by Art Nouveau architect, painter and designer Paul Cauchie. It bears many exceptional decorative elements, including the famous Art Nouveau sgraffito. The sgraffiti, or engraved drawings, that you can see on the wall, represent the allegories of the arts.

We finish the day with a visit to Emery & Cie, the colourful universe created by Belgian Architect Agnès Emery in 1993. Inspired by Arts & Crafts as well as Art Nouveau, but also cultures from India, Asia, Morocco or 18th century Europe, Agnès Emery designs handmade tiles, rugs, lights, furniture, paints and motives for fabrics and wallpapers.

(Overnight Brussels) B

Day 5: Sunday 10 September, Brussels
  • Guided tour of ADAM (Art & Design Atomium Museum)
  • Old Market, vintage market
  • Musée David et Alice van Buuren

Today we begin with guided tour of ADAM. Opened in 2015, this new museum and art centre is dedicated to design and art from the 20th century. This unique collection includes Pop Art, everyday products, artworks and iconic industrial designs, all in a museum with a minimalistic interior. The museum’s colourful entrance steps were designed by Jean Nouvel. Of particular note is the Plasticarium containing over 2000 plastic objects ranging from everyday gadgets to works of art. We visit their new exhibition: Panorama – A History of Modern Design in Belgium.

Then we transfer to the Old Market or “Vieux Marché” in French. The Place du Jeu de Balle flea market is known throughout the world. Not only is it the place where the famous Tintin bought a model of the tall ship “La Lincorne” in Hergé’s  The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), but also a true paradise for vintage hunters, as are the shops dotting on and around nearby rue Blaes and rue Haute.

We end our day with a visit to the David and Alice van Buuren Museum, a private house built from 1924 to 1928, decorated with sublime furnishings, stained glass and fine paintings covering five centuries of art. (Overnight Brussels) B

Day 6: Monday 11 September, Brussels
  • Full day with Danny Venlet, Advisor to MAD Brussels
    • Private home of architect, Ivo Van Hamme
    • Studio of industrial designer, Michael Young
    • Apartment and studio of fashion designer Jean-Paul Knott
    • Private home and studio of Danny Venlet
  • Guided tour of MAD Brussels (Mode and Design Centre)

Danny Venlet was born in Victoria (Australia) from Dutch parentage and studied Interior Design at the Sint-Lucas Institute for Architecture and Visual Arts in Brussels. In Australia, working as an independent designer and interior architect, he went on to add a series of high-profile projects to his name with which he managed to draw considerable international attention before going into partnership with Marc Newson. In the mid-90s he moved back to Belgium where he currently works on projects from across the globe out of his Brussels workshop.

We spend a full day with Danny Venlet exploring a number of Brussels’ contemporary interiors. We visit the private home of architect, Ivo Van Hamme (partner of BOB 361 architects); the studio of industrial designer, Michael Young (to be confirmed); the apartment and studio of fashion designer Jean-Paul Knott, and Danny’s own private home and studio.

We also visit the recently opened MAD Brussels’ new Mode and Design Centre. This new centre includes six shared studios where 10 to 20 designers can work, as well as providing a ground floor area for production purposes. Currently, ‘Mad in Situ’ offers studios for selected residents from different design disciplines, including urban design, textile design, industrial design, graphic design, service design, food design and print design. (Overnight Brussels) B

Antwerp - 4 nights

Day 7: Tuesday 12 September, Brussels – Ghent – Antwerp
  • Guided tour of the Design Museum, Ghent
  • Ghent’s Market Hall by Marie-José Van Hee and Robbrecht en Daem
  • Architecture projects by Atelier Vens Vanbelle: Gewad (private apartment and office of Maarten Vanbelle), Piet & Sarah, Kartasan, Hans & Delphine

Today we make the short 60-kilometre journey to the port city of Ghent, located at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. Known for its medieval castle, guildhalls and art treasures, it is also home to Belgium’s Design Museum.  On arrival we take a guided tour of the museum’s exhibitions and collections which focus on 20th-century and contemporary design. The museum also features one of the foremost collections of Art Nouveau work in the world. Alongside pieces from designers such as Henry van de Velde, Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, we view Art Deco and applied arts from the interwar years. We also visit ‘Plain/Purl’, an exhibition dedicated to textile works by Belgian and international designers such as Petra Blaisse, Louise Bourgeois, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Chevalier-Masson, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Sonia Delaunay, Martine Geyselbrecht, Hella Jongerius, Christoph Hefti and Muller Van Severen.

Nearby we also view the city’s new Market Hall. Designed by Marie-José Van Hee and Robbrecht en Daem in 2012 the hall stands gracefully between the Belfort (a late-medieval belfry), St Nicolas’s Church, Cathedral of St Bavo and the city hall. As an urban interior, the inside embraces the passer-by with a dual modulated wooden ceiling, whose small windows scatter light inwards. The building seems to assume a respectful role relative to the nobler historic stone buildings, by using a wooden, almost humble, finish. A glass envelope protects the wood and provides a soft shine, with the sky reflected. Our visit will be led by award-winning architect Marie-José Van Hee.

Following some time at leisure for lunch, by special arrangement, we meet with Dries Vens and Maarten Vanbelle from Atelier Vens Vanbelle to view a number of their projects.  Established in 2006, Atelier Vens Vanbelle is a Ghent based studio spawned from Dries Ven’s and Maarten Vanbelle’s fun-enthused love for redefining the everyday. Breathing new life into existing architectures and also establishing harmonies between the practicalities and the potential quirks of daily space, the duo are known for their impressive use of internal journeys, unusual material pairings and refined form/void compositions. Projects we shall visit include Piet & Sarah a copper-clad extension to a traditional Belgian farmhouse, and their award-winning Gewad apartments.

In the late afternoon we depart Ghent for the historic city of Antwerp, where we shall spend four nights at the upscale and beautifully designed Hotel Julien. Situated in two 16th-century properties, the hotel has been lovingly restored; authentic features are effortlessly combined with contemporary furnishings. (Overnight Antwerp) B

Day 8: Wednesday 13 September, Antwerp
  • Antwerp Central Station
  • Renaat Braem’s House
  • Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Pavilion: Braem Pavilion & Het Huis
  • Maison Guiette, Bootjeshuis, Huis van Roosmalen
  • Architecture tour of the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom)
  • ‘New Faces of Harbour Cities’: An architecture tour of Antwerp’s Port including the new Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects, Red Star Line Museum, Montevideo warehouses, FelixArchief and Westkaai-Kattendijkdok Project
  • Evening Meal at restaurant Het Pomphuis

Accompanied by a local architect, we spend a full day exploring a range of Antwerp’s architectural projects.

We begin with visit to Antwerp’s Central Station, considered one of the most beautiful stations in the world. The original station was constructed between 1895 and 1905. The stone clad terminus buildings, with a vast dome above the waiting room hall were designed by Louis Delacenserie and the vast iron and glass train shed by Clement van Bogaert. Between 2000 and 2009 the monumental building was completely modernised and expanded to accommodate the high-speed rail line.

The Antwerp-born architect Renaat Braem (1910-2001) is considered one of the finest representatives of Belgium’s Mid-century Modern. He began his career as a trainee with Le Corbusier and worked incessantly from his hometown base from the late 1930s. Today we visit his own home, which following his death, was carefully restored and now opens as a museum by special appointment. Built by himself in 1958, the house is considered one of the best-preserved examples of his work. Here, “…the architect created a constellation of functional, interlocking cubes, which create games of volume and void both inside and outside. The mostly open-plan interior, containing his home as well as his L-shaped office space, uses natural materials and muted tones with Bauhaus-style bright prime colour accents – red, blue and yellow. Exotic objects from all over the world as well as a number of personal objects, souvenirs and designer products – mainly Italian and Danish – furnish the house’s several areas, from the sitting room to the bedroom and black tile bathroom.” Wallpaper, April 2011.

Bream designed some of the most representative modernist examples in Belgium, including the Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Pavilion which we next visit. This open-air museum for modern sculpture, set in a 27 ha park, includes works by Ai Weiwei, Alexander Calder, Jean Arp, Dan Graham, Per Kirkeby, Henry Moore, Panamarenko, François Pompon, Auguste Rodin, Joep Van Lieshout and Ossip Zadkine. To house smaller sculptures and more fragile works, Renaat Braem was commissioned to design an exhibition hall. Throughout his career he saw architecture as the art of organising space in order to liberate human kind. His architecture gradually adopted a more organic style, which is apparent in this pavilion.

During our visit we also view the Het Huis, a semi-open pavilion designed by Robbrecht and Daem. This new temporary exhibition site, which consists of plaited grey-green curved steel plates, has been seamlessly incorporated into the green surroundings of the park. Together with the Braem Pavilion, Het Huis is an example of the museum’s ideal of merging art and architecture.

Following some time at leisure for lunch at the museum’s café we transfer by coach to Antwerp’s dockside. En route we make brief stops to view the exteriors of three distinctive buildings. Designed by Le Corbusier in 1926, the Maison Guiette was built as the residence and studio for painter René Guiette. It’s an early and classic example of the International Style. It was later inhabited by Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester who employed Georges Baines to restore the house in 1985. Built in 1901, The Bootjeshuis (‘boat house’) is a remarkable Art Nouveau building commissioned by a shipbuilder who added the famous ‘boat’ balcony to the design of architect Frans Smet-Verhas. The Huis van Roosmalen, (an iconic black and white striped building along the Scheldt quays), was designed by architect Bob Van Reeth, one of the most important Postwar Belgian architects, in 1990.

At Antwerp’s dockside we take an architectural tour of the Museum aan de Stroom. Located on the former site of a Hanseatic warehouse in an area known as Het Eilandje (‘the little island’), the MAS is intended to be a bridge between the city centre and the port. Designed by Dutch architects Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk, this 60-metre-tall tower block consists of wide panels of undulating glass separating 10 giant stone containers, stacked one on top of the other and clad in violent red Indian sandstone. Every storey of the tower has been rotated a quarter turn, creating a gigantic spiral staircase. This spiral space, in which a facade of corrugated glass is inserted, forms a public city gallery. During our tour we explore how this design is consistent with the historical function and atmosphere of the location, visit the promenade, and enjoy dramatic views of the city from the viewing depot.

Across from the MAS is Antwerp’s Port Authority. A guided walking tour of this area will include a visit to the new Port House (exterior only) designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and the Red Star Line Museum. Designed by New York architects Beyer Blinder Belle, the museum’s new steel and glass observation tower provides panoramic views of the city and its historic port.

We also view the renovated heritage-listed Montevideo warehouses with their distinctive façades, the Sint-Felix warehouses converted into the FelixArchief by architects Robbrecht and Daem in 2006, and the impressive Westkaai-Kattendijkdok project with its six residential towers. Designed by leading architectural collectives from Belgium (ELD and De Architecten nv), Great Britain (David Chipperfield and Tony Fretton) and Switzerland (Diener & Diener), the six towers are surrounded by a beautiful park designed by Parisian landscape architect Michel Desvigne.

We end our day with an evening meal at Restaurant Het Pomphuis, which occupies an old pump house in Antwerp’s harbour area.  (Overnight Antwerp) BD

Day 9: Thursday 14 September, Antwerp
  • Tim Van Steenbergen’s new Atelier (by special appointment)
  • Theo Eyewear Atelier and Warehouse (by special appointment)
  • Copyright Art and Architecture Book Store
  • Afternoon at leisure to explore Antwerp’s fashion stores: Theo-Somers, Dries Van Noten, Ganterie Boon, A.F. Vandevorst & Rosier 41

Antwerp, with its rich history of culture and commerce, is home to cutting-edge fashion, vintage style and great places to eat. During the 16th century, Antwerp was one of Europe’s most prominent cities. It was home to artist Peter Paul Rubens, a hub for both architects and consumers of art, design and culture, and at the centre of the world’s diamond industry, which formed the backbone of the city’s commerce. This backdrop sets the scene today for a modern city full of medieval charm, its narrow winding lanes and cobbled streets leading the way to a playground for lovers of design, fashion and food.

We begin this morning with a visit to the new design studios of Tim Van Steenbergen. After graduating from the Antwerp Fashion Academy in 2000 he was offered a role as Olivier Theyskens’s assistant in Paris. His first collection under his own label was launched in Paris in 2002, but in 2005 he decided to show his collections in his home city of Antwerp. As well as designing for his own fashion label, Van Steenbergen has created jewellery for Swarovski UK, shoes for Novella Italia, ‘Barbie’ outfits, a jean for Xfit by Lycra, an haute couture dress for the Museum of Fine Arts and Lace in Calais (France), the bag ‘le Seau Elsa’ for the French label Lancel and sunglasses ‘Theo by Tim Van Steenbergen’. He also designs costumes for theatre, dance and opera (La Scala, Milan). His work has been presented in the Groeninghe Museum in Bruges, the Louvre and he created an installation for the Biennale of Venice in 2003.

Van Steenbergen’s new design studios are situated in a 19th-century house, where each floor is designed to tell a different story of the label. The house contains interesting architectural ideas, examples of collaborative designs (eg lighting for Delta Light and eyewear for Theo), costume designs for operas and archives for the fashion label

Then we head for a visit of Theo Eyewear. Theo is the house brand at Theo-Somers Optiek. In 1987 Wim Somers and Patrick Hoet launched their own range of spectacles and today have grown into an important player in the niche market for designer eyewear. Mik Somers, the son of Wim Somers, will take us on a private tour of their atelier and warehouse.

We make a visit to Antwerp’s spacious Copyright book store, which covers everything from architecture and design, to fashion and more specialist art books.

This afternoon is at leisure for you to explore Antwerp’s fashion stores Dries Van Noten, Ganterie Boon, A.F. Vandevorst and Rosier 41. Note: most of these stores are open until 6.00pm!

Dries Van Noten (born 12 May 1958 in Antwerp) is a leading Belgian fashion designer, who won the International Award of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2008. That same year, he dressed actress Cate Blanchett for the Academy Awards, and has continued to dress her for other red carpet events. He currently creates four collections a year (men’s and women’s, both for summer and winter).

Ganterie Boon is a family-owned business specialising in Peccary and Chevreaux leather gloves. One of the few remaining glove businesses in Belgium, this 120-year-old shop still retains its 19th-century features including original glove boxes, countertops, cabinets and chairs.

Belgian husband-wife team An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx launched their first collection in Paris in 1998 after graduating from the Fashion School of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. They launched a shoe collection in 2003 and a lingerie line three years later. The pair is known for their deft contrasts in fabrics, textures, and colours, often layering silky lingerie-inspired pieces with tailored jackets, reworked white cotton button-downs, or dramatic capes.

Curated by owner Viviane Van Werelyckhuysen, Rosier 41 is a consignment boutique specializing in new and pre-loved pieces by celebrated Belgian labels such as Raf Simons, Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackerman, Dirk Bikkembergs, Veronique Branquinho, AF Vandevorst, Bruno Pieters to name a few as well as international labels like Comme Des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Balenciaga and Givenchy. Rosier 41 supports local designers and artists by displaying their works throughout the boutique. (Overnight Antwerp) BL

Day 10: Friday 15 September, Antwerp
  • Projects by Piet Boon introduced by Rienk Wiersma, a senior designer (by special appointment)
  • Farewell Lunch at The Jane restaurant (designed by Piet Boon)
  • Time at leisure

Today, by special arrangement, we are joined by Rienk Wiersma, a senior designer from Studio Piet Boon, a Dutch company based near Amsterdam. Piet Boon, born in the Netherlands in 1958, runs an internationally renowned studio which produces furniture, architecture and interiors, and is a recognised specialist in delivering total concept design solutions. The studio’s projects include hotels, private homes, office spaces, apartment buildings and restaurants. We shall view an example of one of Piet Boon’s domestic projects and be given an outline of their renovation works at The Jane.

Tucked in the middle of Antwerp’s up-and-coming Groen Kwartier, The Jane is the much anticipated establishment of three-star chefs Sergio Herman and Nick Bril. Housed within the chapel of a former military hospital, the restaurant’s interior was the charge of Piet Boon who enlisted the help of a number of collaborators on commissioned elements. Enterable by the chapel’s huge – and heavy – doors, guests are led around to the high-ceilinged restaurant where many of the chapel’s original details have been left intact. ‘It was hugely important to restore and preserve the Chapel which was in quite a derelict state’, explains Boon. One such preserved element is the Chapel’s ceiling where the surface has been left largely untouched and the peeling paintwork is preserved with a sealant. Fittingly for a fine dining establishment run by such a renowned chef, The Jane’s kitchen takes the place of the altar. The kitchen – contained within a glasshouse-like room – is built to curve around the chapel’s chancel. While the restaurant is made up of a number of discreet elements, there are a few standout bespoke pieces. An enormous chandelier – created by Beirut-based PSlab – hangs in the centre of the room. Stained glass windows that surround the room were illustrated by Studio Job. The 500 panels that make up the windows include contemporary motifs referencing food and drink.

Following our tour we enjoy a Farewell Lunch in the restaurant’s fine dining room. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (Overnight Antwerp) BL

Day 11: Saturday 16 September, Antwerp – Brussels Airport. Tour Ends.
  • Airport transfer to Brussels Airport for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour ends in Antwerp. Participants returning to Australia on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to Brussels Airport. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Belgium. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B


11-day Architecture and Design Tour of Belgium

Warwick Brussels (6 nights)

5 Rue Duquesnoy 1000, Brussels

Selected for its location, this 5-star hotel in the heart of Brussels is a 2-minute walk from the Grand Place and Central Station. The hotel offers modern, air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TV, free internet and marble bathroom. An American buffet breakfast is served in the salon.

Hotel Julien (4 nights)

24 Korte Nieuwstraat 2000, Antwerp

This small 4-star hotel, located in the historic centre, is a 2-minute walk from the Gothic-style Cathedral of Our Lady. Housed in a pair of 16th-century buildings, this is one of the original boutique hotels that started the designer hotel revolution over a decade ago.

How to book

Make a Reservation


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 11-day Architecture and Design Tour of Belgium involves:

  • Exploring Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp on foot.
  • Extensive walking (up to 5km per day) and standing during museum and other site visits. Walking tours may include steep slopes, flights of stairs, cobbled streets and uneven ground.
  • Regular use of Brussels’ public transport system.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers:

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $6480.00 Land Content Only

AUD $1280.00 Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with en suite bathroom in the 5-star Warwick Brussels (6 nights, Brussels), and the 4-star boutique Hotel Julien (4 nights, Antwerp)
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at the hotel
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour reference book
  • Public transport in Brussels as per the itinerary
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Brussels, Brussels-Australia
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Personal spending money
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply. We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we recieve written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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