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Friday, February 3, 2023

The man who catalogs the ugliest houses in Belgium

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There are two types of chauvinism. The commonly held and well-known belief that whatever emanates from one’s own nation is unsurpassed and better than that of a despicable foreign land. And then there’s the other one – little talked about – which is almost making a homeland of being the worst at something yelling from the rooftops that no one hits sloppy, mischievous, informal or loud people . A guilty proud chauvinism and eternally outraged by its pathetic national identity. Inexplicably, in a study conducted a few years ago by the Pew Research Center, the inventors of the term (our upstairs neighbors, in case anyone is clueless) looked at theirs chauvinism – in French – it pulled down so much that it shared a route with the Europeans we love least: the Spaniards. Surprisingly, and according to these statistics, the Belgians – perhaps even in the shadow of France – were not very lively on this issue of national self-esteem either.

Irrefutable proof of this patriotic contempt is the existence of Ugly Belgian houses (Belgian ugly houses) and its sequel, More ugly Belgian houses (More Belgian Ugly Houses), both published by Borgerhoff & Lamberigts. A smug and malicious catalog of architectural horrors of which the Belgians seem to have plenty, edited at the height of the paradox like those volumes that are put on the living room table to look pretty. 11 years ago committed Hannes Coudenys (1982), the evil genius behind this profitable invention that no one architect can blame a blog about domestic atrocities. The monstrosities ranged from constructions that mimicked Egyptian pyramids to houses that appeared to be the headquarters of a satanic cult, through impossible window facades, expendable walls, extravagant decorations or the ever-helpful pastoral inspiration… All this spiced up with hilarious captions . It is already known that there is no more fertile field for ingenuity than misfortune, be it one’s own or someone else’s. But of course not everyone liked the idea and the pressure was so great that the vlogger and the businessman has decided to give the truce to the native ugliness. Of course, the return of the scourge of real estate nonsense has been big. T-Shirts in 2013, the first book in 2015 of a saga that creates a school and an Instagram account that currently has more than 163,000 followers.

As if the humiliation wasn’t enough, Coudenys came up with the idea of ​​opening an audiovisual format in which he would visit the previously vilified homes to apologize to the owners of the homes. With Hannes says sorry (Hannes apologizes) Coudenys proved that he had found the goose that lays the golden eggs. Coudenys has also learned to “appreciate the beauty that springs from chaos,” and the anger he felt every time he contemplated the architectural landscape has given way to a kind of tenderness that he feels is shared by the rest of his countrymen and which has made them “proud of our ugly Belgian houses”.

Someone wanted to imitate the idea in Spain Ugly Spanish houses, an Instagram account focused on Galicia that never exceeded 500 followers. She’s starving. We lose in that too! Or was that winning?

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Source elpais.com

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