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Flagey Building

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Le Flagey
Le Flagey
Entrance on Place Sainte-Croix
Entrance on Place Sainte-Croix

The Flagey Building (French: Le Flagey, Dutch: Het Flageygebouw), often referred to as just Flagey, is a cultural centre located in the former headquarters of the Belgian National Institute of Radio Broadcasting (also known as the Maison de la Radio or Omroepgebouw Flagey) on the south-western corner of Eugène Flagey Square, in Ixelles (Dutch: Elsene), in Brussels, with its main entrance on Place Sainte-Croix.

The building, parts of which are listed, was designed by Joseph Diongre [fr] and completed in 1938 in Streamline Moderne (an international style of Art Deco). It owes its name to Eugène Flagey [de], a Belgian lawyer and politician. When the broadcaster left in 1974, the building was refurbished as a cultural community centre.

The building has been closed to the public since 24 October 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. It has developed online events on its website and on social networks.[1]


INR building in 1980
INR building in 1980
INR building, 1990s
INR building, 1990s
Le Flagey during renovations
Le Flagey during renovations

The building, designed by Joseph Diongre after winning a competition launched in 1933,[2] was opened in 1938.[3] The competition was launched to create a building to house the first national broadcaster in Belgium, the National Institute for Radio Broadcasting (in French L'Institut National de Radiodiffusion or INR, in Flemish Het Nationaal Instituut voor de Radio-omroep or NIR (1930–60).[3] Henry van de Velde and Victor Horta were on the jury that awarded the prize to Diongre.[4]

The building owes its name to Eugène Flagey, a Belgian lawyer and politician[5] who was mayor of Ixelles from 1935 to 1953.[6] It is designed in a style known as Streamline Moderne, an international style of Art Deco, known as style paquebot ("ocean liner style") in France.[7] Owing to its shape somewhat resembling a ship, the building is nicknamed "Packet Boat"[4] or "paquebot".[8] The interiors included much wood panelling and thin tube lamps, typical of the style.[9]

The building garnered critical acclaim as soon as it was finished, and the qualities of the studios attracted renowned classical, contemporary and jazz musicians to perform there (including Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chet Baker[3]), for live concerts and recordings.[10]

The INR was later split into separate broadcasting entities, one for each language,[10] the Flemish VRT and French RTBF, before they moved out of the building completely in 1974 (after growing out of it[7]) and leased it to various other cultural bodies until the late 1990s.[2] During this time it was poorly maintained.[8] In 1997 a working group convened to create a feasibility study for a complete renovation of the building.[2]

Established as a public limited company (société anonyme), the consortium Maison de la Radio Flagey (NV Omroepgebouw Flagey[8]) purchased the building from VRT and RTBF[9] on 30 June 1998, with 30 companies working towards saving the building. The building was extensively renovated by architects including Storme Van Ranst,[4] and was reopened in 2002.[2][11]


View from Place Flagey, 2011
View from Place Flagey, 2011

The building occupies a large site in the south-western corner of the square, with its main entrance on Place Sainte-Croix. A number of trams and buses provide transport to the location.[12][13]

As a non-profit organisation Le Flagey has the following aims:

  • to create a cultural pole in Brussels, open to diverse musical styles, offering a large part to the image of different artistic disciplines;
  • to create an architectural and real-estate pole by safeguarding and reallocating the former building of the RTBF;
  • to create a pole at the social level by demonstrating a joint action by representatives of the country's different communities with a view to creating a cultural institution of excellence with a European vocation. It also located in between the upmarket Ixelles Ponds and the world of immigrant cultures.

The central portion of the building is dedicated to cultural activities, with five recording studios that are flexible in size and function. Part of the building is listed.[2]

The institution was led by director Hugo De Greef [fr] from 2007[14] until 2011, and since 2011, by Gilles Ledure [nl].[15]

Recording studios

Studio 4, showing the organ
Studio 4, showing the organ

The original design incorporated 12 recording studios, which were built in two acoustic towers forming the core of the building.[9]

The 2002 renovation restored the Flagey Building's original functions by creating a musical space with recording studios and concerts venues, allowing it to host an eclectic programme of events. Its Studio 4 is one of the concert halls with the best acoustics worldwide,[16] home to the Brussels Philharmonic.[17][7] The whole back wall is occupied by an organ, specially designed for this space and built by the Tournai organ-builder Maurice Delmotte].[9]

Studio 4 is also used as a recording studio. The award-winning soundtrack, released in 2005 for Martin Scorsese's 2004 film The Aviator, was recorded there, as well as the musical score of the award-winning movie The Artist in 2011.[7]



The centre has a room permanently dedicated to cinema. It screens films programmed by CINEMATEK (aka La Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique or Het Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief), usually classic films or recent curiosities that have not been distributed in the commercial network. Exceptional screenings are sometimes organised in the prestigious concert hall, the largest in Brussels, where a huge screen is installed for the event. In 2003, Playtime by Jacques Tati was screened there in its original version in 70 mm, for the first time in Belgium.[citation needed]

The Brussels Short Film Festival uses Flagey as one of its locations for screenings and other events.[18] The festival then named the Brussels  European Film Festival, later the Brussels Film Festival (BRFF), took place in April, and a series known as Spanish and Latin American Cinema took place in November, as of 2012.[10] The first edition of the Brussels International Film Festival (BRIFF) took place in the building in 2018.[19]


Aside from being home to the Brussels Philharmonic,[17][7] the centre hosts "Flagey Piano Days" (featuring US pianist Stephen Kovacevich in 2017[8]), and the Brussels Jazz Festival has taken place there[20] since 2015. Flagey is also home to other jazz events, such as the Brussels Jazz Marathon and the Brussels Jazz Platform.[3]


  1. ^ "Stay together, stay connected !". Flagey. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Flagey Building". Flagey. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Flagey". Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "New course for packet boat". SVR-Architects. 14 July 2002. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Flagey". Retrieved 22 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Bourgmestres ixellois". Ixelles Elsene. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Le Flagey - Découvrez Bruxelles en musique". Bruxelles ma Belle (in French). 16 November 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d "Februari 2017: Flagey architectuurwandeling en pianoconcert". Antwerpencultuurstad (in Dutch). 17 February 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d "Voormalig Nationaal Instituut voor Radio-Omroep (NIR)". Brussels heritage. Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest: Inventaris van het bouwkundig erfgoed (in Dutch). 28 April 1994. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "Le Flagey, the former Maison de la Radio". 5 July 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Flagey N.V." SVR-Architects. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Eglise Sainte-Croix". Google Maps. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  13. ^ "About us". Flagey. Retrieved 9 May 2021. Place Sainte-Croix, 1050 Brussels (Belgium). Tram, Bus: 81, 38, 59, 60, 71, N09, N10
  14. ^ "Nomination de Hugo De Greef comme directeur général de Flagey". La Libre Belgique (in French). 14 March 2007. Retrieved 22 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Binst, Jean-Marie (19 May 2011). "Gilles Ledure: "Flagey is een sterk merk"". (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Flagey Flies Again After Audio Treatment". Lighting&Sound International. January 2003. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ a b "Brussels Philharmonic". Brussels Philharmonic. Retrieved 22 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Locations". Brussels Short Film Festival. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Brussels International Film Festival 2018". Flagey. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Flagey". Visit Brussels. Retrieved 9 May 2021.

See also

External links

This page was last edited on 10 May 2021, at 06:25
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