SAU obtains planning permission for LE CHAT cartoon museum

The Brussels-Capital Region has issued the Urban Development Corporation (SAU) with planning permission for the construction of the building that will house LE CHAT cartoon museum on the BIP site on Rue Royale in Brussels.

The SAU, which has been tasked by the Brussels Regional Government with implementing this project, will erect a contemporary, modular building designed by the architect Pierre Hebbelinck on land between the BIP and Bozar, where it will be visible from the Place des Palais (see photos). It will be home to Philippe Geluck’s brainchild, LE CHAT cartoon museum, and will have a gross floor area of some 4,000 m2 on seven floors. That includes three basement levels: the SAU has taken the opportunity provided by the building’s construction to improve access to the underground archaeological remains which form part of the Palais du Coudenberg museum tour and to create storage space in the basement for Bozar, with direct access to the latter’s Salle Henry Le Bœuf.

A new asset for Brussels

Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, said: ‘I am delighted at this important step towards the implementation of an ambitious cultural project for the Region of Brussels, in a place steeped in history, at the heart of a district that’s a favourite with Brussels culture and heritage lovers and visitors to the city from Belgium and abroad. LE CHAT cartoon museum will be a new asset for Brussels. It will reinforce the showcase role of the site of the BIP Regional Centre, which already hosts the permanent exhibition ‘’, the offices of, a vast interactive model of the region and various one-off or regular activities, including the weekly gatherings of the Regional Government.’

Pascal Smet, the Brussels Region’s Secretary of State for Urban Development, welcomed the fact that ‘Le CHAT cartoon museum will increase the attractiveness of Brussels and put an end to an urban eyesore. The creativity should be stressed that has been shown by the project sponsors in designing a contemporary building in a historic setting. This bold architectural gesture will showcase the work of Philippe Geluck, who has long been an ambassador of Brussels abroad.’

An optimised and shared project

Gilles Delforge, the director of the SAU, said: ‘Given the enclosed position of the future building, the SAU has engaged in extensive dialogue with the neighbouring cultural institutions, as well as with the non-profit organisation Mont des Arts, the Royal Commission on Monuments and Sites, and others. As the building that the SAU will construct is positioned at an intersection between the Palais du Coudenberg and Bozar, it has held lengthy discussions with them right from the start in order to optimise its work on this site and ensure that they too will benefit. I'm pleased that the result of this approach is that some of the newly constructed spaces will also be useful for the Palais du Coudenberg and Bozar.’

Philippe Geluck described himself as ‘happy and relieved that this step has been taken! I can't wait to see this beautiful project come to fruition (the idea for which I launched in 2008) and then to share with the public my love of cartoon art, freedom of expression and culture, in the broadest and most popular sense possible! I’d like to express my thanks once again to the sponsors, patrons and partners who have enabled us to provide our share of the funding, for their patience and loyalty. And I'm sure that once the building starts to go up, many more will join us.’

The SAU will erect the building shell, while Philippe Geluck will finance all the interior fittings in his museum, with the support of his private patrons and sponsors. Meanwhile, Bozar will fund the work needed to create its basement storage spaces.

The SAU plans to start the construction work in mid-2021 and to complete it by the end of 2023. Philippe Geluck's team will then see to the interior fittings for LE CHAT cartoon museum. Its opening is scheduled for 2024.

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