EUROPARC’s Winning Design for Renewed European Parliament

Pan-European design collective EUROPARC presents the winning proposal for the renovation of the Paul Henri SPAAK building in Brussels, Belgium. The design, which won first prize in an international competition organized by the European Parliament, emphasizes the identity of the European Union and the value of democracy while promoting the principles of circular construction. The project envisions a permeable structure with minimal environmental impact, including an iconic green agora that invites members to meet and exchange ideas.

 

‘With a war on the doorstep of Europe, and an ensuing energy crisis ever more pressing, the challenges faced by the European Union are shared by us all. As a team of Pan-European offices composed of more than 30 nationalities, we understand and feel the impact of these difficulties directly.’ the team at EUROPARC shares. 

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
the design aims to strengthen the connection between the building and the city by opening up the block

all images courtesy of JDSA / Julien De Smedt Architects

 

 

connecting the parliament to the city

 

As the Pan-European design collective mentions, the current SPAAK building has numerous deficiencies. However, tearing it down and replacing it was not the ideal approach for them. ‘In the building sector, over 50% of the carbon footprint generated happens in constructing the raw structure of a building. If fully dismantled, all that expense is lost and needs to be spent again in a new construction.’ the team at EUROPARC explains. Instead, the strategy of the proposal is to consistently reuse most of the pre-existing structure and its carbon expense. 

 

The design aims to strengthen the connection between the building and the city by opening up the block and improving the continuity of pedestrian flows. Public space is expanded both inside and outside the architecture, creating a more welcoming experience for visitors. In addition, a passage that crosses the Parliament in a natural and intuitive way will provide a great entrance for visitors to the Parliament and create a real node in the pedestrian network of Brussels.

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
the project envisions a permeable structure with minimal environmental impact

 

 

modernized assembly hall

 

The new assembly chamber of the European Parliament, called the Hemicycle, will be transferred to the upper floors to meet the spatial requirements of a modernized plenary hall. It will be equipped with digital features that help spread the discourse of democracy beyond physical confines. The room is extensively integrated with the Parliament’s digital platform to enhance transparency and encourage external participation. Another key feature is the expansive windows that create a visual dialog between the Parliament, the roof garden, the city, and European citizens in general. One of these large windows can also be used as a screen to transmit information in real-time during meetings.

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
a green passage crosses the Parliament and facilitates circulation

 

 

The Green Agora

 

On the top floor of the new Parliament, the Green Agora is the highlight of the public’s visit to the building. The botanical garden is inspired by the ‘Agora’ in ancient Greece – it literally means ‘meeting place’ and facilitated the exchange of ideas between people at that time. The Green Agora is not only visually connected to the plenary hall through its open ceiling, but will also serve as a beacon of European democracy where citizens and members of the European Parliament can interact. In addition, the spirit of pan-European synergy will be reinforced in natural terms, as the park will bring together vegetation native to all Member States to create a diverse European ecosystem.

All in all, EUROPARC’s new SPAAK building – with its permeable first floor, the Hemicycle, and the Green Agora – creates a civic ecosystem that puts people at the center of the spatial experience and brings them closer to the democratic processes in Europe. It is a unique piece of infrastructure that provides members of the European Parliament with the space to carry out their parliamentary duties and citizens with access to a place of significant political and social value that enriches their daily lives.

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
the Green Agora will serve as the highlight of the renovated building

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
EUROPARC’s proposal creates a civic ecosystem that puts people at the center of the spatial experience

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design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
 
design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renew european parliament in belgium
 

project info: 

 

name: Paul Henri SPAAK building
architects: EUROPARC (JDSA / Julien De Smedt Architects, Coldefy, CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, NL Architects, and Ensamble with the support of UTIL and Ramboll
location: Brussels, Belgium