The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Trying times for Belgium's scaffold-caged Palace of Justice
In this file photo taken on January 19, 2015 military vehicles patrol in front of the courthouse in Brussels. The Palais de Justice courthouse of Brussels has become a joke in Belgium. This monumental building has been trapped in its scaffolding for almost 40 years. But the imbroglio seems to be in the process of being resolved with the promise of the State to finally complete its renovation. VIRGINIE LEFOUR / BELGA / AFP.

by Matthieu Demeestere

BRUSSELS (AFP).- It was once Brussels' proudest landmark -- but after almost four decades encased in scaffolding, the Belgian capital's Palace of Justice has become a monumental joke.

And the laughter didn't stop when the federal government revealed that a revived refurbishment plan would begin by reinforcing the ageing scaffolding cage.

Belgian architect Joseph Poelaert's building, which houses several of the country's top courts, has awed visitors since the 1860s.

It became a Brussels icon in pop art like the graphic novels of Francois Schuiten.

But since the endless refurbishment began, the building's damp hallways, collapsing ceilings, graffiti-smeared facade and toxic fungi have become an embarrassment.

The nation of Belgium will mark its 200th anniversary in 2030 and by then, promises government minister Mathieu Michel, the Palace of Justice will be restored.

A budget of 87 million euros ($102 million) has been set aside, while a plan has been drawn up to renovate the facade and secure and insulate 1,500 windows, he told AFP.

Constructed from 1866 onwards when Belgium was an industrial power, the palace has a neo-Classical edifice topped by a vast copper-clad dome, and is bigger than St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Belgium's highest court, the Court of Cassation, is among those housed in the building -- and for the court's president Jean de Codt, the palace remains an "absolutely extraordinary work of art".

The senior magistrate has worked in its halls since 1986 and still sees the palace, despite the scaffolding and the damp, as a symbol of a "strong and independent judicial system".

But, as he showed AFP around the building, it was clear that there is also anger that the physical heart of that system has been allowed to suffer so much.

Collapsing floors

There are water leaks. Plaster has fallen from ceilings. Broken windows are not replaced.

It looks bad, and it's not safe. De Codt himself recounts how he himself fractured an elbow slipping on a flooded marble floor in the Court of Cassation.

The roof guttering is inadequate for a building that covers 26,000 square metres (6.4 acres) of prime real estate on a hill in rainy Brussels.

The basement evidence lockers, where items from thousands of Belgium's historic trials are stored, have been sealed off because of fungal dry rot.

"We found a sagging area in a corridor. If we walked along it we could fall through and end up one floor below," said Nathalie Minnen, a court registrar.

There are junior staff working in the Palace of Justice who were not yet born when the first scaffolding went up around the base of the dome in 1984.

Many things have moved on since the work on the facade began, and the staff won't be content with simply cleaning and restoring the masonry.

Magistrates and lawyers want a modernised workspace and a digital infrastructure better adapted to the 21st century.

Lawyer Jean-Pierre Buyle, who heads the Fondation Poelaert -- a group campaigning for the preservation and modernisation of the building -- argues that with another 100 million euros, the palace could be transformed by 2040.

And then several of the courts and support services that have been scattered around the neighbourhood could return to the palace.

For, as De Codt notes: even though the main building is gigantic, in its dilapidated state, only half of the available space is in use.

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

April 4, 2021

20 Women...

22 mummies are moved in a glittering display in Cairo

Should museums sell treasured works? Pandemic revives debate

Amalia Pica is now represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg opens an exhibition of works by Georg Baselitz

Who are the pharaohs who moved home in Cairo?

MASSIMODECARLO opens an exhibition of new works by Aaron Garber-Maikovska

Phillips to offer REPLICATOR by Mad Dog Jones, the first NFT in company history

Flea circus contraptions to encore at Sworders' Out of the Ordinary auction

Constance Demby, prominent new age composer, is dead at 81

First NASA flight director's personal collection coming to Heritage Auctions

Five records set in $2.2 million Heritage movie posters auction

$1M for Printed & Manuscript African Americana at Swann

Robert Berry Gallery announces its new virtual exhibition 'Tales of Adjusted Desire'

This summer, get invigorated with a live cultural performance

Review: Dreamy cowboys and a ballet bath

Super Mario Bros. sells for $660,000 at Heritage Auctions, smashing world record

Trying times for Belgium's scaffold-caged Palace of Justice

Her book is about belonging. She's struggling with the idea.

She never dreamed of acting. Now she's an Oscar nominee for 'Minari.'

Can we really picture Auschwitz?

Broadway reopened. For 36 minutes. It's a start.

Stephenson's gathers estate treasures for April 9 Spring Decorative Arts Auction

Great uses of Steroids Canada products

How Does Zapoj Help Healthcare Providers with Vaccination and Beyond?

History, Gods, and Goddesses of Greek Mythology

7 Best PS4 Games, You Should Play in 2021

Benefits of proctored exams

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful