Rue de la Loi
Looking west down on the portal to the Loi tunnel, from the former JECL Building (2006)
|Location||City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium|
Rue de la Loi (French) or Wetstraat (Dutch) is a principal road running through central and eastern Brussels (Belgium) which is famous due to the presence of several notable governmental buildings (of Belgium and the European Union). The road, whose name translates into English as Law Street, runs from Rue Royale/Koningsstraat ( ), almost in the centre of Brussels, to Schuman roundabout ( ), in its European quarter. It forms the first (westerly) part of the N3 motorway that runs to Aachen, Germany.
The term Rue de la Loi or Wetstraat is often used in the Belgian media as a metonym for government because not only the Belgian Federal Parliament is at the beginning of this street, but also the office of the prime minister at number 16. At the far end is the Berlaymont building on the Schuman roundabout and Cinquantenaire beyond that. Shortly before the roundabout, the central part of the road sinks underground into the subterranean Belliard Tunnel (the continuation of the N3 motorway) that runs under the roundabout and Cinquantenaire.
The street starts, flowing off from Rue des Colonies, intersecting with Rue Royale. Immediately to the south is Parc metro station and Brussels Park. To the north is the Belgian Parliament building on the Palais de la Nation. The Théâtre Royal du Parc is also situated here.
- 16 (north): Official residence of the Prime Minister of Belgium
- ~ Avenue des Arts (Small ring) and Arts-Loi metro station (lines 1, 2, 5 and 6)
- 41 (south): European Commission
- 56 (north): European Commission
- Rue de Spa, 2 (north): European Commission
- Rue de Spa, 3 (north): European Commission
- 86 (north): European Commission
- 102 (north): European Commission
- 130 (north): European Commission
- 107 Crown Plaza Hotel
- ~ Maelbeek metro station (lines 1 and 5)
- ~ Chaussée d'Etterbeek
- ~ (north) Jardin du Maelbeek
- 145 (south): Lex building, Council of the European Union
- 170 (north): Charlemagne building, foreign affairs departments of the European Commission
- Schuman station (heavy rail)
- 155 (south): Résidence Palace, press centre future headquarters of the European Council * ~ Belliard tunnel entrance to N3 motorway
- 200 (north): Berlaymont building, headquarters of the European Commission
- 175 (south): Justus Lipsius building, headquarters of the Council of the European Union
- Schuman station (metro, lines 1 and 5)
- ~ Schuman roundabout
The road was redeveloped into a higher capacity one way thoroughfare in 1969 with the first metro line being built under it. In 2001 it was proposed that one lane of the road should be removed and the pavements extended to include cycleways. This, together with an overall face-lift, was completed on 7 September 2003 and immediately calls rose for the reversal of traffic flow (see redevelopment below).
As part of plans to improve the image of the European Quarter, the eastern part of the Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat running through the quarter (between the small ring and the Chaussée d'Etterbeek/Etterbeeksesteenweg) will rebuilt. In April 2008 the Brussels-Capital Region (the regional authority), together with the European Commission and the City of Brussels (the local authority) launched an international urban design competition to redevelop the area as an eco-district, concentrating on improving pedestrian and public transport access. They stated it should include more public spaces and have a "strong symbolic identity" with high environmental and architectural standards. Furthermore, they aimed to diversify the area by bringing in more housing, cultural and leisure areas while simultaneously increasing the area occupied by the Commission from 170,000 m² to 400,000 m² - doubling the building density along the street.
In March 2009, a French-Belgian-British team led by French architect Christian de Portzamparc won the competition and Siim Kallas stated that the project, which would be put into action over a few a long period rather than all at once, would create a "symbolic area for the EU institutions" giving "body and soul to the European political project" and providing the Commission with extra office space. The road would be reduced from four lanes to two, and be returned to two way traffic (rather than all west-bound) and the architects proposed a tram line to run down the centre. A series of high rise buildings would be built on either side with three 'flag ship' skyscrapers at the east end on the north side. Charles Picqué described the towers as "iconic buildings that will be among the highest in Brussels" and that "building higher allows you to turn closed blocks into open spaces."  The tallest towers at the eastern end would be subject to a separate architectural competition and would be symbolic of the Commission. The freed up space (some 180,000m²) would be given over to housing, shops, services and open spaces to give the area a more "human" feel. A sixth European School may also be built. On the western edge of the quarter, on the small ring, there would be "gates to Europe" to add visual impact.
The general quarter master plan saw not only the road being reduced from four lanes to two, but the tunnel entrance being covered as far as Résidence Palace, and a new square between the Rue d'Arlon/Aarlenstraat and Rue de Trêves/Trierstraat.
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- Buildings situated on corner of Rue de la Loi and Rue de Spa, registered on Rue de Spa so there is no fixed number for Rue de la Loi. They sit around the 70 mark.
- Future site of 'symbolic' Commission towers
- Demey, Thierry (2007). Brussels, capital of Europe. S. Strange (trans.). Brussels: Badeaux. p. 388. ISBN 2-9600414-2-9.
- Operation facelift begins : launch of an urban design competition on a European and international scale, relating to the rue de la Loi and its surroundings, European Commission
- Brussels' EU quarter set for 'spectacular' facelift, EurActive
- Annonce du lauréat de la compétition visant la Définition d’une forme urbaine pour la rue de la Loi et ses abords
- "EU promises 'facelift' for Brussels' European quarter". EurActiv. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- Clerbaux, Bruno. "The European Quarter today: Assessment and prospects" (PDF). European Council of Spatial Planners. Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2007-12-09.