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The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken: Documentary about King Leopold II
During the 19th century, progress in construction techniques, especially the use of metal and glass as construction materials, made a new type of building possible: the greenhouse. In 1873, architect Alphonse Balat designed for King Leopold II a complex of greenhouses which complement the castle of Laeken, built in the classical style. The complex has the appearance of a glass city set in an undulating landscape.
The monumental pavilions, glass cupolas, wide arcades that cross the site like covered streets, are much more than an anecdote on the architectural applications of iron and glass or on little greenhouses of exotic plants. What the Royal Greenhouses express concerns architecture and, specifically, a major construction programme: the "Ideal Glass Palace". They are the culmination of various meetings, letters, sketches and plans exchanged between architect Alphonse Balat and King Leopold II. But above all, they inspired the new Belgian architecture of the day, and their influence spread, with Art Nouveau, throughout the world.
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