Following the proposal of Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet (also responsible for heritage), the Brussels Region decided to protect the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower.
The next step is a thorough renovation of both buildings. The Brussels Government will urge the federal government to start a renovation procedure, because it is the federal government that is formally responsible for the maintenance of both buildings. State Secretary Smet is prepared to explore different possibilities, including those with private support.
“Brussels has many architectural gems that bear witness to the rich history of our city. The Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower are also at the top of this list. The Brussels region is today sending a powerful signal to the federal government to urgently renovate these unique buildings. By protecting our heritage, we ensure that people in Brussels can be proud of their city and we give Brussels the international feel it deserves,” said minister Pascal Smet.
The Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower were commissioned by King Leopold II, between 1901 and 1905. The king wanted to build an open-air museum around his domain with buildings that referred to the “Far East”. Both buildings were designed by Parisian architect Alexandre Marcel who was inspired by “Le Tour du Monde” of the 1900 Paris Exhibition. In 1909 both buildings were donated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as means of promoting Belgian relations with China and Japan.
The Chinese Pavilion is built in a typical South China style with the recognizable roof shape. The rich ornaments on the facade and inside consist of a mix of different Chinese styles.
For the construction of the Japanese Tower, the woodwork was ordered from a renowned joinery in Tokyo and then assembled in Laeken. The interior decoration is unique because it contains original pieces from the Edo and Meiji period (the 18th and 19th century Tokyo).
The garden around the Japanese Tower is now also protected. There are many remarkable trees in the garden, including the thickest Japanese Katsura tree in the region. The park surrounding the Chinese Pavilion has been classified since June 12, 1997.
The manager of the buildings, the Federal Buildings Agency, responded positively to the classification of both iconic buildings. The Royal Commission for Monuments and Landscapes (KCML) issued a positive advice regarding the protection of both buildings.
Featured photo by Mica Veras dos Santos.