Lever House (HE2B-ISIB)

© Alfred de Ville de Goyet

The building which now houses the Institut Supérieur Industriel de Bruxelles (the engineering department of Haute École Bruxelles-Brabant (HE2B)) was built between 1850 and 1852 by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, during the construction of Place du Congrès/Congresplein. Of the mid-19th-century structure, only the (listed) 17-bay façades in Place du Congrès/Congresplein, Rue Royale/Koningsstraat and Rue Vandermeulen/Vandermeulenstraat remain. The building was in fact extended and redesigned twice by architect Paul Saintenoy, adapting it to the requirements of two successive large corporate occupants: Banque Transatlantique Belge in 1919, and Lever from 1921 until the late 1950s (hence the name Lever House). Founded in 1885, Lever Brothers developed a process for making soap from glycerin and vegetable oils, allowing it to be sold in bar form. Lever’s business in Belgium really took off when it was given permission by the Belgian government to exploit the Congo’s sizeable palm groves. At the time, it was the only company licensed to utilise the colony’s vegetable-oil resources.

The changes made in 1919 and 1921 are still in place. Covered by a large skylight and bordered by a metal corridor with balustrades, the bank’s ticket office retains its 1920 design. Visitors are still received in the magnificent marble-clad hall, reminiscent of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. The side walls of this hall host two bronze statues of Congolese, illustrating the colonial stereotypes of the time. Another unusual feature of the building are the rooms that Lever fitted out as a cinema and museum. The building was intended both as a showcase for Lever’s flourishing business and as an education and propaganda hub, with the museum and cinema serving to promote colonial ideas. (Listed – 05/02/2021)

Guided tours:
Sat. & Sun.: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00.
Sat. & Sun.: 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00.
Sat. & Sun.: 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30.
In collaboration with Le Tamanoir.

Guided tours in French Belgian Sign Language:
Sat. & Sun. at 11:00.
In cooperation with Arts & Culture.

Practical information

Sat. & Sun., 10:00 to 16:00
Rue Royale/Koningsstraat 150, Brussels

Reservation only for guided tours and activity

Non accessible

Non accessible