New headquarters of the European Union and the European Council was presented in Brussels this week. The facility, colloquially called “the space egg” due to the shape of the central part, has the official name “Europe” and will serve for the work of these institutions, since the previous facility Justus Lipsius proved to be too small for the current needs of the EU.
Moving of the both institutions to the facility worth 321 million EUR should be completed next year.
Central part of the space egg consists of three meeting and summit rooms with more than 30 cabins for translators, a cafeteria and around 250 offices.
Construction of the new headquarters was approved in 2004, when it was decided that the EU will organize all summits in Brussels instead of headquarters of member countries. Since the building Justus Lipsius, built in the 1980s and used since 1994 when the European Union had half the number of today’s members, was not designed for major meetings, the EU officials had to start thinking about a bigger space.
The Europe building was designed by a consortium of European architecture companies, including Samyn and Partners, Studio Valle Progettazioni and Buro Happold. Its construction was almost entirely financed from the budget of the EU.
Architect and engineer Philippe Samyn used 3.750 wooden window frames in order to build its northern and eastern side. In this way, they wanted to promote recycling of materials and pay tribute to European craftsmanship and cultural diversity.
“The Europe building is a blend of modern and historical heritage,” said Samyn. “The need for preservation, reconstruction and integration of a part of the palace was a challenge, but also a great opportunity. History of this building enables us to step into the history of Europe in a way,” he added.
The Europe building is connected to the Justus Lipsius building with two pedestrian bridges. In the back part of the building are remains of the former residential palace which served as Nazi headquarters during the Second World War, when the Germans occupied Belgium.