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Belgian Blue Stone in towns Arlon
Arlon Law Courts. Belgium.
Contracting Authority: Régie des Bâtiments de l´Etat Belge (Belgian State-owned building department)
Architect: Francis Louwet (Audex office in Liege)
Stonemasons: André and Anne-Catherine Lambrechts

Intended to bring together different courts and departments of the Ministry of Justice, the Law Courts comprise of two buildings linked by a footbridge.
The first building was opened in 1993 and the second was completed in April 2003.

The new building presents reference levels and materials identical to the first one, over a different geometrical volume, the circle contrasting with the square. The façade is formed of a glass screen with a mirror effect.

Inside, a corridor serves as access to all the offices; the central circle is occupied by the courtrooms while the peripheral area is reserved for offices. Blue stone has pride of place both for the interior and exterior spaces.

The project was divided into 4 phases. The first phase related to the outer facing of the main building, where the plinth course and the tower were covered with old-cut blue stone with a Combed finish.

During the second phase, the footbridge connecting the two buildings was covered with 5cm thick slabs, also with a Combed finish.

It was perhaps the third phase which required the most meticulous work since it involved tiling the floor of the circular building.

André Lambrechts :
" The circular corridor and the staircase were covered with blue stone with a Honed finish. The tiles were cut to a trapezoidal shape increasing in size as they move away from the axis. All the materials that we used were cut to size. That did not pose any particular problem insofar as everything was well prepared.”

The interior walls were covered with 3-cm thick stone cut in the old style. As for the two stairwells, these were dressed with milled hewn stone.

An old-cut fountain and square.
The layout of the accesses evokes the circular shape of the building. Starting from the centre and moving outwards, there is a fountain composed of an upper basin where the waters flow into a basin located a metre below. There are also traffic areas, with and without stairways, rest areas equipped with public benches, access for people with disabilities and parks.

Anne-Catherine Lambrechts, workshop manager :
"My team was involved mostly during the last phase of the project, i.e. the square and the fountain. Everything was done in blue stone. The square and the fountain have been created in a mechanical old-cut finish to form a non-slip surface, which was vital for outside.
Between the law courts and the fountain, a wall supports an access ramp fitted with steps to make up for the difference in level. The wall covering was made of honed Milled slabs.

A real puzzle

Anne-Catherine Lambrechts ;
" The entire square appears as an arc of a circle and in tiers. It was not a simple job to put it all together since the trapezoidal pieces were not the same everywhere. The joints of the wall and the floor had to be made to match and the staircases needed to be taken into account.

We received slabs from Soignies cut to size. We resized the pieces in order to be able to carry them as far as the place where we had to fit them. We prepared everything on the computer beforehand and the site progressed very quickly.

A choice of proximity and effectiveness

Anne-Catherine Lambrechts :
"For us, since the project concerned a public building in Belgium, it made sense to use a local stone. Additionally, the stone was very easy to obtain because the quarries were close by. Moreover, blue stone has a very beautiful colour and the different finishes present subtle differences in shade. It is also easy to cut and fit, whereas granites present more significant colour variations and are therefore more difficult to use.

We work exclusively with Les Carrières de la Pierre Bleue Belge. We need a quarry that can supply large quantities since that makes it possible for us to carry out large-scale projects.”

André Lambrechts. Stonemason.
“We work exclusively with Les Carrières de la Pierre Bleue Belge. We need a quarry that can supply large quantities since that makes it possible for us to carry out large-scale projects.”     

“A stone suited for precision work.”