Theme Week Brussels – The Europa Building, a new home for the European Council

Saturday, 8 June 2013 - 01:07 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: European Union, General, Museums, Exhibitions
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD

© Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD

The Résidence Palace is a complex of buildings between the Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat and the Chaussée d’Etterbeek/Etterbeeksesteenweg in the European Quarter of Brussels. It is formed of three buildings, a press centre and a building currently being renovated for use by the European Council, mainly, and even also (for some occasions) by the Council of the European Union as a summit building. This new building will be named Europa. To the west lies the main Council building, Justus Lipsius and across the road lie the Berlaymont and Charlemagne buildings of the European Commission.

Today the various blocks are used for mixed purposes. The Belgian government bought the complex in 1947 and used Bloc A (the north-east L-shaped building) for administrative offices. Bloc B (the south-west C-shaped building) and Bloc C (a smaller building to the south east of that) have in recent years served as an international press centre used by journalists for their coverage of activities related to the major European Union institutions nearby. A pre-war period swimming pool, a theatre and a restaurant have been maintained. Apartments are now being built in the courtyard to the south of bloc B.

© Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD © Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD © Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD © Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD © Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD © Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD
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© Architects and engineers: Phillipe SAMYN, VALLE, HAPPOLD
Following the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, the Treaty of Nice declaration that all European Council meetings would be held in Brussels, and the creation of a permanent President of the European Council, the European Council and the Council of the European Union (the Council) needed more office space and meeting rooms for the Council’s bi-weekly meetings and the four European Council summits each year.

In 2004, a suggestion made by the Belgian government that Bloc A of the Résidence Palace be taken over by the Council of the European Union and the European Council was adopted. A European competition was opened to redesign the building to suit the needs of the institutions. In 2005 it was announced that Samyn & Partners (Belgium), Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italy) and Buro Happold (United Kingdom) had cooperated and submitted the winning design. The refurbished bloc A and its extension was planned to be finished and inaugurated in 2012.[2] Its opening has been delayed a year and its cost has risen from €240 million to €315 million. The complex would be handed over from the Belgian state to the Council for the symbolic price of €1.

The work will renovate the existing sections of bloc A, demolish the 1960s extended facade and connect up the two wings to turn the L-shape into a cube. The extension would form a large glass atrium surrounding an urn or lantern shaped structure housing the meeting rooms. The facade of the new extension will be a “patchwork of traditional wood-frame windows from different European countries” with meeting and press rooms covering over 6000 square metres in an urn-shaped structure, each floor varying in size. The original 1920s part of the palace will be restored and also form part of the complex. The building will also be the first in Belgium to be continuously monitored by environmental auditors, it will have solar panels on the roof and recycle rain water.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on european-council.europa.eu – Europa Building and Wikipedia Bloc A redevelopment.


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