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New Brussels modern art museum gets the go-ahead

The new museum as it will look inside.

Kanal, the planned new museum of modern and contemporary art in Brussels, has been given the green light to go ahead, Brussels secretary of state for urbanism Pascal Smet ( said.

The museum will be housed in the iconic Citroen building on the edge of the canal in the very heart of Brussels, which has been acquired by the Brussels region and will be thoroughly renovated to suit its new purpose.

The building fronts onto the Place Sainctelette, and extends on its side along the canal itself on the Quai des Péniches. It is reached by the Yser metro station.

The delivery of this permit is the start of the construction of Kanal and I am very pleased with that,” Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort commented.

Kanal will be a museum of international renown that will at the same time provide a showcase for Brussels artists of all sorts. It will also bring together the citizens of the many cultures in our Brussels Region.”

The project submitted a planning application in March this year, and was subject to a public consultation round in September. The final planning permission was granted in December.

The project to turn the old Citroen building, originally containing showrooms and workshops, into a contemporary art museum started in 2016.

It will include 12,000 square metres of space for modern and contemporary art, and a further 7,000 square metres for international architecture. There will also be 13,000 square metres of public space for culture, relaxation, entertainment and education.

The remaining 9,000 square metres will be taken up with offices, workshops, auditoriums, storage rooms, delivery rooms, technical spaces and a car park.

The showrooms will be restored to their original condition, with mezzanine floors installed in the 1950s removed and the 1970s aluminium and glass facade replace with steel according to the original design.

In May 2018, the original building was turned into space for several exhibitions in cooperation with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, going by the name of Kanal Brut. The installations included visual arts, design and architecture by Brussels-based artists, as well as performing arts, all intended to “echo the identity of the site, but also its human and social history, tangible across the different workshops and offices and in the different fittings of this vast complex”.

Kanal Brut ran until June 2019.

With this project, culture will become the driving force behind the redevelopment of the Canal Area and the North District,” Smet said. “With its international appeal and local embedding, the museum will become a new meeting place in the city. The museum will give Brussels, as a crossroads of cultures, even more international allure.”

The new Kanal is not the only development in the area. Other projects include the new Beco Park along the canal, the new Suzan Daniel-designed bridge, and the transformation of the public space at the Place Sainctelette.

With the redevelopment of this entire zone, we are showing that we can realise ambitious projects and continue our work to transform Brussels into a city for people,” Smet said.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times