The European Council is moving into a new headquarters in Brussels, which features a huge glass atrium enclosing a bulging, lantern-like structure. Belgian architecture studio Samyn and Partners worked alongside Italian firm Studio Valle and British engineers Buro Happold to create the facility. It was developed in response to the need for increased capacity at the European Council and the Council of the European Union following the introduction of new member states in 2004. The Belgian state offered the EU a block of the former Residence Palace – also known as the Europa building – as a replacement for the Justus Lipsius building, which was designed as a home for the council in the 1980s when the union had just 12 members.
The building, whose overall cost is an estimated €321 million, has been designed with the idea of creating a gathering space away from the noise and dust in the middle of the city’s mess, said architect and engineer Philippe Samyn. The architects used old oaks windows found in junkyards across Europe to create the external cube structure, wrapping up the Residence Palace building. The roughly 3,750 old window frames have been restored and placed in large stainless steel frames to create the new façade.
Prefabricated in Flanders and assembled on site, the lantern structure hosts modular spaces located at the various levels with increasing and decreasing proportions, which properly fit the types of meetings being held in the building. The interior decoration and the multi-coloured designs cover not only the ceilings and floors of the meeting rooms but also some other parts of the building, such as the lifts, and were created by Belgian artist Georges Meurant.
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