The new European Union Headquarters, located in Brussels, Belgium, is getting ready to host European leaders for the first time. The building, which was originally scheduled to open in 2012, has been beset by delays and cost overruns that pushed the building’s opening back to 2017.
The building is known as The Europa, and is made from a mixture of old and new architecture. Belgium donated a building known as the Residence Palace. Originally built in 1927 as apartments, the building was purchased by the Belgian government and renovated into office space. The donated building was also used by Nazi forces in World War II. The building was incorporated into the new Europa design because it holds a historical designation and could not be razed.
The Residence Palace serves as an anchor for a new glass atrium that joins the building. The new atrium contains 3,750 windows of varying sizes that have been framed with recycled oak from building demolition sites in each of the 28 member states. At 11 stories, the new construction actually exceeds the height of the Residence Palace.
The atrium contains a large lantern structure that glows in the dark, thanks to reflective strips that catch low-energy spotlights focused on it. The “lantern” as it is known, is not simply something to look at. It expands the amount of available meeting space in the building for EU members.
The interior of the building is exceptionally colorful, but designers were careful to avoid any colors or patterns that could be interpreted as supporting one member over another, or that resemble any member’s flag or national identity symbols.
Another new addition to the Europa is a round table where EU leaders will meet. The current meeting table has sharp angles that sometimes prevent members from seeing who is talking. The members must sometimes rely on video screens to see who is speaking.
Members will begin using the building in January, and the site will host the first leaders’ summit in March.
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Photo Credit: Samyn Partners and Associates