The Watch

Previous Radio and Television Building

Brussels, Belgium

1998 World Monuments Watch

Designed by the Belgian architect Joseph Diongre and completed in 1938, the Radio and Television building was one of the first broadcasting centers in Europe. Nicknamed the steamship for its streamlined appearance and similar massing, the building was conceived to hold the studios of the INR (National Broadcasting Institute) and was widely praised for its excellent acoustics and its avant-garde architecture. Complementing the innovative interior design, this masterpiece of Art Deco style architecture features a dramatic telescoping tower and a wrapped band of glass punctuating each floor. The inclusion of this modern landmark on the 1998 Watch brought considerable media attention about the potential for its demolition. The Radio and Television building was included on the 1998 Watch after the building sat vacant for a considerable period of time and costly asbestos removal threatened the continued viable use of this marvel of technology and Modernist aesthetics. After Watch listing a public limited company was set up to purchase the building from the VRT (vlaamse Radio & Televisie) and the RTBF (Radio Television Belge de la Communaute Francaise). The goal of the new venture was to study new uses for the building including new music spaces, recording studios, and concert halls as well as business offices. Flagey, as the building is now called, is a state-of-the-art entertainment venue featuring two concert halls, a world-class cinema, as well as performance, rehearsal and event spaces. It is a leading cultural center hosting classical, jazz and contemporary artists from all over the world, the annual Brussels Film Festival and a variety of cultural and educational events throughout the year. Completed in 1938, the Radio and Television building was the biggest, most advanced complex of its kind in the world. An engineering feat of its time, it featured a series of three-foot brick walls, empty space and sound-absorbing materials. The Radio and Television building is a keystone of modern architecture in Belgium and is now no longer threatened with demolition.

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