This building complex was built in 1906 by François Denhaut, an innovator of Aubusson public works, who in 1902 submitted a patent for a cross-beam reinforced cement design which he had developed. This building truly showcases his expertise in construction.
The architecture of the main façade denotes significant Art Nouveau influences, specifically in ornamental detail including the elaborate ironwork and predominance of diverse vegetation. Note the vegetal patterns on the first-floor wrought iron balustrade, the decoration under the second-floor windows and the red terracotta bas-reliefs depicting thistle bouquets on the third-floor reinforced cement parapet.
Furthermore, the shape and decoration of the bay windows evolves with each floor. On the top floor, François has played on the use of volume by removing the right beam in order to let in significantly more light whilst retaining the overhang of the left beam.
After the construction of this building, François Denhaut returned to aeronautics and was involved in the launch of aviation in the Creuse area. In 1909, he built a biplane and produced his first hydroplane in 1911. He was decorated with the Legion of Honour in 1921.
The "signature piece" of François Denhaut
François Denhaut was a unique inventor who was born in the town of Aubusson. Through his construction of this building, he created a kind of catalogue of expertise. Listen to this audio commentary to find out more about the architecture of this early 20th century building and the history of its maker.