Latitude (N) : 50.260594 I Longitude (E) : 3.501532
The site known as Grand hornu is a former coal-mining industrial facility. It was operated until 1954 and still bares witness to the great industrial revolution of the 19th Century. First erected from 1810 to 1830 by Henri de Gorge, a French-born captain of industry, it was conceived as a full-fledged city project. This site is the only example of a functional urbanization plan from the early industrial age to be found on the European continent.
The Grand-Hornu site was built in the neo-classical style. It includes the coalmining industrial facility (workshops and offices), the workers’ housing estate, and the directors’ home, also known as the Chateau de Gorge (Gorge castle). The workers’ housing estate – the first to be built in Europe - was located right next to the coalmining industrial facility. Miners coming from various regions would come and live in one of the 440 houses, all of which featured a backyard and were exceptionally comfortable by the standards of that time. A public school, a public library, a public bath, a dance hall and a hospital further contributed to making this housing estate a place that could be truly called a town.
In 1989, the Province of Hainaut acquired the estate. This prime example of our industrial heritage has since then been converted into a major pole of contemporary creation, housing the CID (Center for Innovation and Design) and the Mac’s (Museum of Contemporary Art of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation). It has been included on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites since 2012. The integration of new buildings into the estate in order to house the Mac’s is the work of Belgian architect Pieer Hebbelinck.
On the car park in front of the Grand Hornu site, one can see the slabs of a former 787-meter deep coalpit (coalpit 7, or Sainte Louise). The starting point of the very first Belgian railway was built here, to bring coal to the surface.
A little further, you can see the alley where Vincente Minelli and his crew shot a few scenes for the movie “lust for life”, starring Kirk Douglas as van Gogh. Many locals were asked to play in the movie as extras.
Indeed, On September 21st 1955, Vincente Minelli’s camera crews took possession of rue Sainte Louise, rue de Wasmes and the alley separating the two streets. Machinists, cameramen, sound technicians, actors, extras, neighbours and other curious people clustered there, waiting for the filming to start. One scene that was shot here was the one in which Kirk Douglas, AKA Vincent Van gogh, runs after a miner right after mass to ask him why the faithful didn’t seem touched by his sermon.
Site du Grand Hornu
Rue Sainte-Louise 82