KIM POORTERS //Architect// Brussels 1190
/ Kim's favorite places in Brussels /
For the obligatory morning dip before heading of to work I usually end up at the nearby Victor Boin, but with some time to spare on the weekend, this is truly the nicest place to go for a swim in and around Brussels. With the sun pouring in from all sides, you can almost be thankful for the original wooden cladding to have been (temporarily) taken down, and the intriguing hyperbolic parabaloid concrete ceiling made visible.
I guess a love-hate relationship with this place came naturally after working for over three years on its intensive renovation for Robbrecht en Daem architecten. You won’t find me having diner here anymore, but I highly recommend everyone to check out the marble and bronze façade of this 1916 Grand Café, as well as its remarkable interior. Look beyond the horribly anachronistic attributes that were added recently and walk straight to the pinky wintergarden in the back to marvel at its stained glass cupola and wood-and-mirror panelling. Make sure you check out the tile-clad restrooms before you leave.
I rented a flat just around the corner when I first moved to Brussels in 2006 and had been wondering ever since what the interior to this 1929 Henry Van de Velde masterpiece looks like behind its imposing brickwork facades. Last summer I finally got a chance when Maniera hosted an exhibition on the (emptied) ground floor. The current owner considers the space as an artwork in its own right, to be left untouched and subject to decay since the seventies. I haven’t figured out just yet if this is a crime or a blessing. Fascinating.
La Clef d’Or
I was a bit sceptical about this place at first when a friend dragged me in for a quick lunch some years ago after browsing the Jeu de Balle flea market, but with the Marché Bio des Tanneurs right around the corner La Clef d’Or has made its way to the top of my preferred-lunch-spot-list on the weekend. Fight for a seat on their terrace looking out onto the market, or sit in the front section of the brasserie: the waiter serving this part of the bar is hilarious ! Try their ‘Complet’ and Pistolet pain de viande.
Agreed, their ramen don’t match those of the former Yamato or Samuraï Ramen, and yes, it’s quite a noisy place. But with the first closed since earlier this year and the second situated in the no-go-centre of town, Kokuban has become my absolute favourite spot for a fast, affordable and uncomplicated dinner. Go for the Gyoza, Edamame and Karaage Ramen, and be sure not to miss out on their cherry and green tea flavoured Yukimi Daifuku, or ice-cream and rice-dough balls !
Excavated underneath Victor Horta’s Centre for Fine Arts, Cinematek lies somewhat hidden between Bozar’s entrance and the stairs leading to the Warandepark. With only two projection rooms, they offer a cosy and affordable alternative for Brussels’ blockbuster movie theatres with a program that is a perfect mix between classical and cult, and a small, yet careful selection of new movies. Check out the lovely David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and Michael Douglas in Falling Down !
Today I don’t call it ‘home’ anymore, but, having moved literally just around the corner, I still peek out through our living room window every now and then, or look up while having a drink on Bar du Matin’s terrace, overwhelmed by some sort of sweet nostalgia. With its 50+ years of age, Cuisinier’s modernist tower might be getting a bit rough around the edges, but the demanding views out over the city are without a doubt among the most impressive ones around.