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Protected status sought for Japanese Tower and Chinese Pavilion

22:06 19/10/2017

The Brussels government has started the procedure for the Japanese Tower and Chinese Pavilion near the Atomium in Laeken to be classified as protected monuments.

The unusual buildings, which were commissioned by Leopold II as part of the development of the Laeken royal domain in the early 20th century, and as a symbol of Belgium's relationships with China and Japan, were designed by the Paris architect Alexandre Marcel.

The monuments have been closed to the public since 2013 and require major structural renovations before they are safe to reopen. Precious prints, armour and porcelain previously housed in the two buildings are being kept in storage at the Cinquantenaire Museum.

Brussels region minister-president Rudi Vervoort, whose portfolio includes heritage protection, said on Thursday that work was under way to protect the buildings, which are the property of the Belgian state.

A spokesperson for Vervoort's office said the monuments were of significant "historical, artistic, heritage, scientific, aesthetic and technical interest".

The application for protected status applies to the Japanese Tower and its garden, plus the Chinese Pavilion and all of its interior decoration elements and furniture, annex and temple. The park in which the pavilion sits was already classified in 1997.

The announcement coincides with the Council of Europe's first International Landscape Day, on Friday, which aims to celebrate landscape as "an essential component of people’s surroundings, an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage, and a foundation of their identity".