Brussels-It was once Brussels’ proudest landmark -- but after almost four decades encased in scaffolding, the Belgian capital’s Palace of Justice has become a monumental joke. And the laughter didn’t stop when the federal government revealed that a revived refurbishment plan would begin by reinforcing the ageing scaffolding cage. Belgian architect Joseph Poelaert’s building, which houses several of the country’s top courts, has awed visitors since the 1860s.

It became a Brussels icon in pop art like the graphic novels of Francois Schuiten.

But since the endless refurbishment began, the building’s damp hallways, collapsing ceilings, graffiti-smeared facade and toxic fungi have become an embarrassment.