Brussels-Capital Region grants building permit for renovation AB

Brussels-Capital Region grants building permit for renovation AB

Strengthening ties with neighbourhood and city

Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism, announced that the Brussels-Capital Region issued the building permit for the renovation of the Ancienne Belgique, better known as AB. Through these renovation works, the AB aims, among other things, to strengthen its ties with the neighbourhood and improve the building’s accessibility. A budget of over five million euros is available, and the works are scheduled to start in the summer of 2023.

The cultural institution AB has been a rather closed cultural institution since its creation in 1979, literally and figuratively, and especially to the neighbourhood. The only way to get in is with a ticket, in a manner of speaking, and after the concerts you are kindly asked to leave the building. Together with the partners involved, the AB wants to change that. To achieve this, there will be, among other things, a renovation project in Rue des Pierres, a side street of Boulevard Anspach, where the AB is located. Through its Culture, Youth and Media department, the Flemish Community is responsible for financing and monitoring the building project, which will offer the AB many new opportunities in the coming years. The initiatives to strengthen the ties with the neighbourhood and the city are essential to this. With the building in Rue des Pierres, the AB opens up as a place where people can connect with each other. Its ambition is to turn the AB into an open house. The new and enlarged AB Salon will play an even more active and versatile public role: it will not only have room for intimate concerts, but also for musical and social reflection, exhibitions, workshops, neighbourhood meetings, etc. The new café-restaurant at the top of the building should become one of the neighbourhood’s hotspots. With its roof gardens and large terrace offering a panoramic view of the city centre, it has all the assets to achieve it. In the restaurant, the AB wants to make its leading ecological policy tangible with local products, short chain, less food waste and vegetarian options. Here too, the AB wants to use the space not only for culinary purposes, but also for small-scale meeting projects. By integrating the counter of the current café on the ground floor into its concert operation, the AB wants to improve service to the public.

Focus on inclusion: increasing accessibility

The accessibility of the main hall will also be improved. An additional passage will be created for access to the first balcony in the main hall, which will ensure that you will no longer have to walk through the AB Club. These adjustments will be made in close cooperation with Inter, the Flemish accessibility expertise centre. There will also be an adapted lift that will take you to all floors without the need of guidance. In addition, extra sanitary facilities for disabled person will be added within this design.

The stairwell connecting all the rooms will be on the outside of the building but will receive acoustic treatment to prevent noise from spreading into the street. Customers sitting on the roof terrace and in the café-restaurant will not have a view of the neighbours. In addition, the AB seized the opportunity to improve acoustic insulation of the common wall with its neighbours.

The AB also evaluated the building in relation to the GRO Tool of the “Facilitair Bedrijf”, a service organisation of the Flemish government. This tool is an innovative manual to assess all sustainability aspects of large building projects.

Cultural institution of the Flemish Community

The AB (Ancienne Belgique) is one of the major cultural institutions of the Flemish Community. As such, the Flemish Community (Department of Culture, Youth and Media in cooperation with the Facilitair Bedrijf) is the project owner.



Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet: “The renovation of the legendary AB is a wonderful project that also underlines our urban planning ambitions. It will be a very open and accessible building where everyone will be able to enjoy performances, a tasty meal and stunning views from the roof terrace. Since we made the central avenues car-free, our city centre has completely revived. Cultural houses in the immediate surroundings of the Bourse such as the AB, Beursschouwburg and Cinema Palace play an important role in this.”
Flemish Minister of Culture Jan Jambon on the ambitions of this renovation: “With this project, the Flemish Community invests in its art institutions, including in Brussels. Improving accessibility is a key priority of this renovation, so that anyone who wants to can enjoy the AB.”
Tom Bonte, general director AB: “Our ambition to turn concert hall AB into a lively music house with activities at any time of the day comes closer with the renovation in Rue des Pierres. Afterwards, an accessible creative place will emerge, housing residencies, workshops, (neighbourhood) meetings, small concerts... At the very top, a café-restaurant, roof terrace and its vegetable gardens will be perfect to connect with each other. In this way, we do not only increase the public comfort and the general appearance of AB, but also seize the opportunity to strengthen its connection with the neighbourhood.”

© Ancienne Belgique


Project information

Project owner:
Flemish Community Department of Culture, Youth and Media in cooperation with the Facilitair Bedrijf

ICI ​ architects + JPHA (temporary association)

Architectural engineer:
Matriche sprl research office

Building techniques and consultant for the energy performance of buildings:
Enesta srl

Agency acoustics:
ASM Acoustics sprl

Security coordinator:
Securisan srl

Denys NV

Duration of site:
527 days

€ 5.100.000


Damiaan De Jonge Woordvoerder, Kabinet Pascal Smet
Olivier Van Raemdonck Woordvoerder, Kabinet Jan Jambon
Mattijs Deraedt adjunct-woordvoerder, Departement Cultuur, Jeugd en Media Vlaanderen


About Pascal Smet

Brussels Government, Secretary of State for Urbanism and Heritage - European and International Relations - Foreign Trade - Fire fighting and Emmergency medical Assistance

Member of the Board of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC), responsible for Culture,Youth, Sport, Community Centres, Living Together and Diversity

Pascal Smet
Koning Albert II laan 37 - 12de
1030 Brussel