Rue de la Loi

Rue de la Loi (French) or Wetstraat (Dutch), meaning "Law Street", is a principal road running through central and eastern Brussels (Belgium) which is famous due to the presence of several notable Belgian and EU governmental buildings. The road runs from Rue Royale/Koningsstraat, in the centre of Brussels, to the Schuman roundabout in its European Quarter. It forms the first (westerly) part of the N3 road that runs to Aachen, Germany.

Rue de la Loi (in French)
Wetstraat (in Dutch)
Looking west from over the Belliard tunnel
LocationCity of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′39″N 4°22′31″E

The term Rue de la Loi or Wetstraat is used as a metonymy for government in Belgian media because the Belgian Federal Parliament stands at the beginning of this street and the office of the prime minister is located at number 16. At the far end is the Berlaymont building on the Schuman roundabout and the Cinquantenaire beyond that. Shortly before the roundabout is the exit ramp from the tunnel under the roundabout and Cinquantenaire.


The street starts as a continuation of Rue des Colonies/Koloniënstraat at the crossroads with Rue Royale/Koningsstraat. Immediately to the south is Parc metro station and Brussels Park. To the north is the Belgian Parliament building, the Palace of the Nation. The Théâtre Royal du Parc is also situated here.


The road was redeveloped into a higher capacity one-way thoroughfare in 1969 with the first metro line being built under it, along with two decks of underground parking between the metro line and the road. In 2001 it was proposed that one of the five traffic lanes should be removed and the pavements widened to include cyclepaths. This, together with an overall facelift, was completed on 7 September 2003. Immediately there were calls for the reversal of traffic flow (see redevelopment below).[3]


As part of plans to improve the image of the European Quarter, the eastern part of Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat (between the small ring and Chaussée d'Etterbeek/Etterbeeksesteenweg) will be 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.[4]

In March 2009, a French-Belgian-British team led by French architect Christian de Portzamparc won the competition and European Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud Siim Kallas stated that the project, which would be put into action gradually 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 'flagship' skyscrapers at the east end on the north side. Brussels Minister-President 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." [5][6] The tallest towers at the eastern end would be subject to a separate architectural competition and would be symbolic of the Commission.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

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 the Résidence Palace, and a new square between Rue d'Arlon/Aarlenstraat and Rue de Trêves/Trierstraat.[8]

See also


  1. 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.
  2. Future site of 'symbolic' Commission towers
  3. Demey, Thierry (2007). Brussels, capital of Europe. S. Strange (trans.). Brussels: Badeaux. p. 388. ISBN 2-9600414-2-9.
  4. 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
  5. Brussels' EU quarter set for 'spectacular' facelift, EurActive
  6. "" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  7. "Annonce du lauréat de la compétition visant la Définition d'une forme urbaine pour la rue de la Loi et ses abords" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-05. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  8. "EU promises 'facelift' for Brussels' European quarter". EurActiv. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  9. Clerbaux, Bruno. "The European Quarter today: Assessment and prospects" (PDF). European Council of Spatial Planners. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
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