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After four decades of scaffolding, works to begin on Brussels' Justice Palace

08:55 03/05/2023

The first phase of restoration works on the Justice Palace in Brussels will finally begin, now that permits have officially been granted.

These first works include the restoration of the outside of the building on the Place Poelaert side, lighting of the facades and the installation of an ornamental fence to secure the entrance to the building.

“The first scaffolding was put in place almost 40 years ago,” said Pascal Smet, Brussels state secretary for town planning and heritage, adding that a number of studies and formal discussions then followed.

“This planning permission for the facade restoration finally seals the restoration of this emblematic building. Its role as the base of justice in our capital will thus be preserved.”

Calling the Justice Palace “an eclectic architectural gem from the 19th century,” Smet said that “its monumental construction makes it a unique European heritage”.

The recently approved permit specifically covers several works on the facades, primarily through the restoration of the stone cladding.

According to Smet’s office, various analyses have shown that the stones have conservation problems at various levels.

While it was initially estimated that a large quantity of bricks needed to be replaced, after additional inspections (and by assuming preventive conservation measures and regular maintenance in the future), that number of bricks to be replaced can be drastically reduced.

The new intention is to carry out a heritage restoration where the existing bricks are preserved or restored as much as possible.

The same is true for the other areas of restoration targeted in the first permit, including the preservation of many doors and windows.

“The Justice Palace will finally regain its original glory,” Smet said.

“With this restoration, the federal and regional authorities are putting an end to a scandalous situation that has gone on for far too long.

"This symbol of our national heritage will finally once again become a signboard of our city and of Belgium."

Mathieu Michel, secretary of state for the Régie des Bâtiments, the federal buildings agency, said the goal is to have no more scaffolding on the building by 2030, the year Belgium celebrates its 200th anniversary.

“The Justice Palace in Brussels is one of the most important and emblematic buildings of the capital and of Belgium, housing our country's highest court,” Michel said in a statement.

“Its historical and architectural dimension makes its preservation and renovation crucial for cultural and heritage reasons.”

Written by Helen Lyons

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May 3, 2023 13:39