Update (January 20, 2023): Despite protests from architects and historians, the demolition of Maison Zilveli is now underway. In his ArtForum review of The Lost Architecture of Jean Welz, Ian Volner laments upon the iconic home’s destruction.
Le Journal des Arts reports the iconic modernist home, Maison Zilveli, built by Jean Welz in 1930, may be torn down and completely rebuilt if La DRAC (The Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs) doesn’t intervene and protect this historic landmark. Although those in favor of tearing the home down and rebuilding argue it is the safest way to move forward, opponents emphasize, “destruction and reconstruction can never preserve constructive aspects and will inevitably become merely an interpretation,” rather than remaining an original. Alongside this, the reconstruction plans have no intention of rebuilding the iconic balcony, which opponents believe is the most significant part of the home in architectural terms.
A key player in the fight to protect Maison Zilveli is Peter Wyeth, the author of the upcoming release, The Lost Architecture of Jean Welz. Wyeth explains how “it is very rare to have a modernist house that has remained unchanged: it is a real case study,” underscoring the inevitable destruction of heritage in rebuilding what could be a landmark. He insists on “a painstaking restoration respecting the fabric” of Maison Zilveli.
Wyeth and other enthusiasts have gathered backing through online petitions and the architecture database of iconic homes at risk for complete reconstruction. La DRAC is currently debating; we wait and cross our fingers.