Rvs-Cde  Council of State

The Buildings: history

The Council of State occupies six buildings between the rue de la Science, the rue Jacques de Lalaing and the rue d'Arlon in the Quartier Léopold, nowadays an area of offices (European institutions, ministries, ...) but home to the aristocracy in the XIXth century.

The official address is : 33 rue de la Science, which is the seat of the Council of State since 1948 and is a former private mansion called "Palais du Marquis d'Assche".  The first owner was indeed one of the sixteen richest Belgians of the XIXth century : Théodore-Charles-Antoine, Count Vandernoot and Marquis of Assche. It was designed and built between 1858 and 1860 by the famous architect A. Balat, who was also the architect of the reconstruction of the Royal Palace of Brussels and who built the Laeken Greenhouses. At the time, this mansion was the largest building in the area, it's front strikingly similar to the Farnese Palace (Palace of Pope Paul III) in Rome.

Between 1901 and 1909, the Palais d'Assche was home to members of the royal family, Prince Albert and Princess Elisabeth, the future sovereigns. King Léopold III and  Prince Regent Charles were born here.  A marble plaque in the great hall commemorates these events.  In the 1930's, the Palace was also the residency of ambassadors of the United States.

The stately staircase and the first floor have kept their original neo-Louis XIV style decoration.

Particularly remarkable are :

  • the First President's chambers : it was at first one of the sitting rooms of the Palace;  the ceiling is decorated with paintings by Charles Chaplin (1862), who was at the time a well-known French painter working for the French aristocracy of the Second empire (Napoléon III), the style is XVIIIth century (cherubs); stately crystal chandelier;
  • the former ball room of the Palace : for a long time it was the General Assembly room of the Council of State; crystal chandelier, loggia for an chamber orchestra (balustrade); two modern tapestries form the P. De Wit firm in Malines showing the Provinces of Wallonia and Flanders, their history and legends;
  • the old library : initially Prince Albert's library, flemish neogothic style (fireplace).

The Palais d'Assche is listed as a historic building.

Since 1995, the Council of State occupies also the "Hôtel Lowenstein", 35 rue de la Science.
It is a private mansion built in 1919-1920 for the financier A. Lowenstein by the French architect Sigwalt in the "Beaux-Arts" style which was popular in Paris at the beginning of the XXth century (for example the Hôtel Lutetia at the Boulevard Raspail).  For many years it was the seat of the Embassy of the Netherlands.  Nowadays, the public hearings of the administrative litigation section are held in several stately rooms, the dining room and the stately reception room (wooden neo-XVIIIth century pannelling).

A. Lowenstein was a great financier of the beginning of the XXth century, who had interests in the synthetic textile industry (Fabelta at Tubize) but who was also involved in a bid to acquire the majority of the shares of the "Banque de Bruxelles".  He did not succeed in his attempt.  He loved horses and built the stables in the building's courtyard.

He "disappeared" suddenly and in mysterious circumstances in July 1928 while coming back from a financial conference in London on his private plane, a Fokker FVII.

Apart from the two historical buildings, the Council of State also occupies modern buildings.

At the back of the building at 94-102 rue d'Arlon, is the new assembly hall for ceremonial sessions of the General Assembly of both sections of the Council of State ( magistrates and assessors being sworn in and installed in office), for public sessions (presentation of magistrates, assessors and registrars to vacant posts) and ordinary sessions (setting up and hearing reports of commissions : for example, the commission on procedures and the commission on the annual report: personnel matters).
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