1. The building
The building that accommodates the Constitutional Court is situated in the centre of Brussels, at 7 Place Royale, next to the Church of St. Jacob-op-Koudenberg. It is a corner property between the Royal Palace and the National Audit Office. The building is part of an important architectural structure built between 1776 and 1781 in neo-classical Louis XVI style, with the equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon in the middle. The project was financed by Coudenberg Abbey. The interior was designed by B. Guimard.
Over the years, the building has been used for a wide variety of purposes. Originally it accommodated two mansions, which were sold by the abbey in 1783. From 1800 onward and throughout the nineteenth century, the place served as a hotel for travellers and was renowned under the name Hôtel de Flandre as an exclusive stopover place for the nobility.
It was extended and converted several times. In 1854, after the hotel behind it had been demolished, a splendid dining room (now a reception room) was added to the structure. In 1864, it was extended towards the Royal Palace. Embellishment works were carried out as well, which included the laying out of a winter garden in the former courtyard (now the room where the Court holds its public sessions).
In 1924, the building became public property and was transformed in order to accommodate the Ministry of Colonial Affairs (conversion of the winter garden and addition of an attic floor). Later on it was used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Africa Library and the Ministry of the Brussels Region. During World War II, the building served a long stretch as the administrative headquarters of the German occupiers.
At the beginning of the nineties, a start was made on the complex and difficult renovation works the façades of the building are listed with a view to accommodating the Constitutional Court. The works were completed within thirty months, and in the autumn of 1993 the Court moved into the renovated building.
2. The interior
The courtroom is situated on the ground floor and is directly accessible from the entrance hall. The courtroom is square and is lit by a pyramid-shaped glass dome. The ground floor also accommodates the registry, the reception room for lawyers and journalists, and the room where the deliberations are held. The deliberation room was set up in a drawing room that has been preserved in its original condition with patinated wainscoting in (neo-classical) Louis XVI style. The two presidents, the judges, the legal secretaries and the administrative staff have their offices on the first and second floors. The third floor holds the library and reading room.