On 18 December 1957, Delhaize “Le Lion” opened Belgium’s first self-service supermarket on Place Flagey in Ixelles. This event was part of a general trend taking place across Europe in the 1950s that saw the opening of similar outlets in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and Italy, following a model perfected in the United States in 1930, at the start of the Depression.
After half a century’s existence, the supermarket is now a familiar part of our lives. Few are indifferent to it: for some the supermarket is an incarnation of positive values of progress, for others it represents the standardization of mores and Western materialism. It is of equal interest to artists, sociologists, city planners and contemporary European architects. Major figures like Nicholas Grimshaw or Dominique Perrault have been entrusted with the design of emblematic sites in London and Austria whereas 50 years ago, the involvement of young talents in such projects was unthinkable.