Architectural trend: A look at the Founding Epoch

Due to their special flair, Founding Epoch style buildings are highly popular in urban areas. The combination of generously-sized room layouts, elaborate decorative elements and large windows makes this architectural style most appealing, which is why it has been in high demand in the emerging cities of the 19th century since its early beginnings.  In our article we will show you why Founding Epoch Architecture is still as appealing as ever.


Architectural trend: The Founding Epoch

A love of detail, nature and art


The Founding Epoch began in the mid 19th century in the age of industrialisation and the resulting economic boom in Europe. The middle class gained influence and founded many of the big and venerable companies that still exist to this day. Typical founders included the “railroad barons”, whose new means of transport made industrialisation on this scale possible. The development was also strongly influenced by players such as Krupp in the industrial sector and Baron Rothschild in the banking sector. However, industrialisation also brought with it many grey and drab industrial areas. But there was a counterpole.

The architecture of this European period is a feast for the eyes. It is characterised by artistic beauty and the desire for the comfort of natural materials in an urban setting. The elaborately decorated sandstone facades emanate uniqueness and exclusivity. The material is durable, but easily processable – which is essential for the design of impressive facades. The highly detailed processing of natural materials was an expression of appreciation for craftsmanship. Many of the Art Nouveau buildings contain grand curved staircases and impressive elevator systems made from revolutionary materials such as steel, iron and glass. They bestow an aura of grandeur upon said staircases, balcony parapets or windows.

The close relationship to the arts and the passion for detail is also reflected in the living quarters, which exude a unique ambience of sophistication and luxury. One need only think of high-gloss parquet, stucco with flowing lines and flower designs on high ceilings, generous suites and stained glass windows. But even though all Art Nouveau buildings share certain characteristics, they are also quite versatile and each have their own style.

From Art Nouveau to Palazzo Risorgimentale – Founding Epoch Architecture in a European context

Founding Epoch Architecture became popular throughout Europe. Due to the parallel development in this style, we can still admire the works of Victor Horta in Brussels or the creative buildings with Gothic influences of Antonio Gaudi which characterise the cityscape of Barcelona. The Catalan architect and artist created buildings whose flowing sculptural forms along the windows and balconies are reminiscent of living organisms. Paris, too, is overflowing with Art Nouveau architecture. Apart from the many buildings, a prime example of this style is also found in the entranceways to the metro in the French capital that were designed by Hector Guimard. But Art Nouveau also left its mark in regions where you would least expect it. Villa Igiea in Palermo, Sicily, is an outstanding example of a Palazzo Risorgimentale, the Italian version of a Founding Epoch style building.

Leipzig in Germany not only has an abundance of well-maintained Art Nouveau buildings, it also has the largest district of contiguous Founding Epoch style buildings in all of Germany: the Waldstrasse quarter. The combination of representative front buildings and smaller rear buildings or servant’s quarters has social roots: the intention was to ensure social intermingling. The lower levels of the front buildings contained shops and shopkeeper apartments, while the upper levels were reserved for employees and artisans. The rear buildings, on the other hand, served as accommodation for labourers.

Living in Founding Epoch style

Would you like to make an Art Nouveau building your new home? Bella Italia or Parisian chic, Spanish Modernismo or living aesthetics in your home country. Engel & Völkers is represented in 32 countries, and has what you are looking for. Visit Engel & Völkers to find selected properties from the Founding Epoch.

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