Architecture Workroom

Exhibition—Architecture for Justice

In the spring of 2011, the exhibition 'Architecture for Justice' took place on the topic of the courthouse in Brussels. The occasion was a public competition for ideas 'Brussels Courthouse, Imagine the Future!', which the Federal Public Service Justice and the Belgian Buildings Agency held in 2010. Architecture Workroom was invited to be the guest curator.

No building is as renowned as the Brussels courthouse. Built between 1866 and 1883 by Joseph Poelaert, it has emerged as an icon of Belgian architecture. This monumental symbol of the rule of law defines the skyline of the capital. However, it no longer meets safety and functionality requirements. Moreover, the role of justice in society has also changed. A strong vision is therefore needed to modernize and protect the courthouse.

To address these challenges, the international ideas competition Brussels Courthouse, Imagine the Future! had been launched last summer, to study the future functions of the courthouse and the immediate vicinity. Participants had to choose between two scenarios: either the building continues to function as a courthouse, or this function disappears definitively.

Nearly 200 teams, from Belgium and abroad, took part in the competition. The exhibition shows thirty entries and elucidates a broad range of lines of approach. The aim was not merely to put winners on a podium; the exhibition was intended to showcase five major challenges for the future of the courthouse, for which the ideas and proposals presented answers: 

Together with the safety and architectural studies, the results of the international ideas competition and this exhibition constitute a sound point of departure for the creation and implementation of a future project for the courthouse and the surrounding quarter.

Practical information 
31.03.2011 until 15.05.2011
Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels
Initiated by
Belgian Buildings Agency, Federal Public Service Justice
Co-productionArchitecture Workroom, Belgian Buildings Agency, Federal Public Service Justice
Bozar Architecture, A+ Belgian architectural review
Info competition


Brussels, completed, input/output


With structural support from the Flemish government and regular support from the Brussels capital region and other regional and local governments.