If you've ever lived in a city, you're more than familiar with the industrial weeds that are scaffolds blighting buildings for months and even years on end. But eventually, these metal cocoons are torn down, revealing a butterflied structure underneath. Unless you live in Belgium, where public building projects take so long, people assume that putting long metal bars on the outside of buildings is the country's dominant architectural style.
Belgians like to boast that they're a nation of builders. What they fail to mention is that they're the shitty kind who take twice as long as quoted and rub their builder's cracks all over your coffee mugs. The country is notorious for endless renovation projects of its 19th-century buildings, leaving most cities looking like someone crashed their computer in the middle of a very productive game of Sim City 2000. In Antwerp, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (the Belgian Met) has been completely boarded up with scaffolds from 2011 until (optimistically) 2022. Meanwhile (and it is a while), the country's Royal Conservatory was put in scaffolds in the mid-'80s, only to have the actual renovations begin in â¦ well, they haven't actually started yet, but maybe 2023?
But the winner of the world record of Longest Builder Circle Jerk has to be Palais de Justice in Brussels with its 49-year-long renovation project. Erected in 1833, the court took 33 years to build, and it's taking even longer to keep it from falling down like a house of poorly engineered cards. Like Theseus' Supreme Court, large chunks of the "Palace of Scaffolding" (as it's locally known) have been put behind bars since 1983 (done so without a permit, which may be the most Belgian thing ever), and conservative projections put the renovations' completion in 2032. That's two whole generations of Belgians who can only picture their country's highest law office as the architectural work of a mad sentient hedgehog.
Still, the absurdity doesn't end there. The court's renovations have been up for so long that its scaffolding needed renovations itself, prompting yet another layer of scaffolding. And when, eventually, those scaffolds' scaffolds need scaffolds of their own, the subsequent Droste Effect will surely rip open a black hole that'll suck us all into scaffolding infinity.
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Top Image: Jefke Blouson, Wikimedia Commons