Disclaimer: I love Belgium. I love its vast fields, pleasant parks, and deep forests. I love its awesome playgrounds, playful ducks, and friendly people. I love its architecture, cozy buildings, and impressive castles. Having lived there for three years, during which I attended the Brussels American School (hi to all of my classmates; go Brigands!), I have a deep and nostalgic appreciation for the country. It’s the place that turned me into who I am today and the country where I learned my very first words in English.
So you can bet your bottom dollar that I turned my full attention to Hannes Coudenys when I heard that he posts pictures of ‘ugly’ Belgian houses on the internet. Now, Coudenys and I disagree about Belgian architecture: what he calls ‘ugly,’ I find to be ‘quaint.’ However, nobody can deny that he finds very intriguing examples of Belgian architecture.
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In an interview, Coudenys told Bored Panda that his project is ‘loved’ and he joked that it has turned into a kind of a ‘cult.’ “We all love to hate ugly Belgian houses,” he said, drawing attention to the fact that “Poland has terrible architecture, as a lot of people have let me see.”
However, not all is grim in Coudenys’ world. He noted that there are examples of good architecture in Belgium: “I like the work of Gijs van Vaerenbergh, Vens-Vanbelle, De Vylder Vinck Taillieu, Vincent van Duysen.”
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Coudenys’ hobby has grown into a phenomenon: he has more than 104,000 followers on Facebook and 76,800 fans on Instagram.
In a previous interview, Coudenys told Bored Panda that some Belgians have a peculiar understanding of what constitutes good architecture: “Normally, if you like architecture you like good houses, but in Belgium, there’s a lot of ugly architecture. So I started taking pictures of it.”
“Because regulations are quite liberal and we love to design our own quirky dreamhouse,” Coudenys explained. He added that lots of home-owners were angry that their houses were being mocked online.
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“I received emails from lawyers and eventually gave in, stopping the blog altogether. I can understand the negative reactions in a way… It’s the house of their dreams and I am demolishing it!” the Belgian revealed.
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Coudenys isn’t the only critic of Belgium’s architecture. According to Culture Trip, if you’re in Belgium and want to see the country’s ugliest buildings, you would do well to visit the Ghent Market Hall, the Wiels Museum in Brussels, and the Tour Paradis in Liège.
Also be sure to see the ‘Book Tower’ in Gent, Leuven’s Sint-Maartensdal Towers, the seat of the Humanist Democratic Center in Brussels, the Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel in Antwerp, and The Water Tower in Ghent. Even I have to say that a few of these buildings make my inner artist cringe.
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