Royale Belge Building

The Royale Belge building is a fine example of 1960s corporate architecture in Brussels, Belgium. After being completely abandoned in 2017, the building was in a state of extensive disrepair. In 2018, the city of Brussels granted a consortium of investors, Souverain 25, permission to renovate the building. In 2019, the building and its surrounding grounds were granted regional heritage protection. The city of Brussels and the new owners launched a design competition with a brief to reorganise the building and incorporate a mix of uses, including conference facilities, offices, co-working spaces, a hotel, a health club, and a restaurant.

Royale Belge Building, Brussels, BELGIUM

The winning design and adaptation project, now successfully completed, was a collaborative effort by the London-based Caruso St John Architects, the Antwerp-based Bovenbouw Architectuur, and the Brussels based DDS+ Architects and Metzger et Associés Architecture. The project financing is entirely private and the developer is a consortium of four funding partners – Cores Development, Urbicoon, Foresite and Ape.

Designed by the renowned Belgian architect René Stapels in collaboration with the French architect Pierre Dufau, the building was completed in 1970 as the headquarters of the Royale Belge insurance company.

The façades, which were originally composed of large glass sections and Corten steel, were thermally substandard, at the end of their lifespan, and showed many leaks. The large glass façade was still single-glazed, and this gave rise to condensation problems. The roofs and terraces were aged and had significant waterproofing issues. The technical equipment was outdated and entirely based on a fuel oil energy supply.

Royale Belge Building, Brussels, BELGIUM

The project to renovate the Royale Belge was fundamentally about doing as little as possible to the protected building, reusing and recycling materials wherever possible, making minimal alterations to allow it to fulfill its new purpose, and improving its energy performance whilst preserving the essence of its original design.

Externally, the original Corten steel façade framework has been retained with glazing that closely matches the original but with thermal performance that meets contemporary standards. On the ground floor, large openings have been formed in the original marble-clad walls of the entrance hall. A generous passageway leads to a large circular hall that has been cut through the floors of the podium at the centre of the plan. These alterations bring light into the building, connect the various levels of the building and provide new shared spaces for the users.


The project to restore the Royale Belge is of remarkable scale and quality, and showcases a commitment to sustainability that is visible throughout. By rescuing this 20th-century Modernist landmark from demolition, the restoration ensures the safeguarding of a vital piece of architectural heritage. Its multifunctional design approach, including the restoration of the surrounding garden space which is now accessible to the public, underscores its versatility and community engagement. Notably, the project’s minimalistic approach to both the building and new additions, which minimised the loss of original material, sets a positive precedent for similar architecture. This restoration shows how large-scale private investment can have a significant social impact”, the Awards’ Jury stated.

Contact: Didier Peremans, DDS+ Architects | |