2018 Arts and culture
The Palace, a real gem of Brussels’ heritage, has been restored to its original purpose: a cinema and leisure complex in the centre of the city. Thanks to a complete renovation, its beautiful Art Nouveau features have regained their former glory.
What challenge was the inspiration for your project?
We faced many challenges. Firstly, a major architectural challenge. After all, it’s a historic building. It took a lot of collective energy and a lot of money to make the plan a reality. For example, we had to convince the Listed Buildings and Natural Heritage Service that this was a good plan.
The second challenge was, and is, to become part of Brussels, in the heart of the city. And to engage in a real dialogue to ensure that all the political institutions involved would rally behind the project to bring it to a successful conclusion.
What was your innovation that addresses this problem?
What distinguishes this place from other cinemas is that it’s not just a place to see films. It’s a place where all kinds of things happen. You can see a film, have something to eat or drink, meet people, attend debates or conferences and do all kinds of other things besides watching films. Or you can just watch a film, which is a great thing in itself.
So, in a way, this is the house of the senses. Senses that stir up both curiosity and pleasure. The pleasure of watching a film, of good food, of sharing, meeting people, and experiencing the love of others.
What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?
Thanks to Triodos Bank, we were able to finance the project and start the work. Triodos Bank helped us from the outset and quickly came on board to help finance all the work. And they didn’t let us down, because in the final stages, when we were looking for funding to organise our first activities, they were still there for us and helped us out again. So Triodos Bank is very close to us.
What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?
The Palace is different because it’s a building with a history. It has been a cinema since 1913. That year Pathé brought film to Brussels and a big cinema, in Italian style with 2,500 seats, opened.
Back then, despite its size it already had a cosy atmosphere. It was not only a cinema but also included a restaurant. You could eat there and meet up with friends. So it was about more than just seeing a film. We wanted to recreate that atmosphere in the new Palace.
What impact has your business had on the community?
Brussels is a multicultural city. It is a city where French and Dutch speakers live together. But it’s not only for them. We are also home to a big European community, and lots of expats. So it’s a very international city and that is an aspect we want to cater to, for example by subtitling films in English, which does not happen in other cinemas.
We want to become a place where people can exchange ideas with each other. That is very important to us. If we can do something that brings together two, three or all the communities of Brussels, then we will have achieved our goal.
It’s a cultural project and a neighbourhood integration project. Its goal is to really enter into a dialogue with others.
How does Triodos Bank share your vision?
The restaurant works with sustainable products. We try to follow the principle of the short supply chain for our vegetables and fruit, meat and all our other products. We work together with small producers, small artisanal beer brewers and we offer organic teas. So we try to have an offering that contributes to the transition.
I think that the entirety of all these values, of the dialogue, sustainable development and the special attention we pay to how we treat our staff, creates a connection between Triodos Bank and the Palace.