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European parliament. Brussels. Urban proposal. Building, as a public architectural infrastructure.
European parliament. Brussels. Urban proposal. Building, as a public architectural infrastructure.

Urban design.
Urban design.

Master plan mounted into the urban fabric
Master plan mounted into the urban fabric

Courtyard in office matrix
Courtyard in office matrix

Courtyard in office matrix
Courtyard in office matrix

Protest meeting in plenary square
Protest meeting in plenary square

Plan of plenary square
Plan of plenary square

Section and exploded view of plenary square
Section and exploded view of plenary square




PROJECTINDEX
 
EU PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS
Technische Universiteit Delft
ARCHITECTURE

This design for new premises for the European Parliament is predicated on their seamless integration in the urban structure, with clearly defined public and bureaucratic components in an active interaction. The project addresses the complex brief for a political institution that has to represent a family of 27 countries. Its focus is on how the parliamentarians relate to the citizens of Europe.
As history has shown, large public spaces can play a major part in guiding the course of politics. Think of St Peters Square in Rome and Tahrir Square in Cairo. The role of the European Parliament has a bearing on the lives of the 500 million Europeans it represents. Half a billion people live in accordance with basic rules laid down in the EP. The key question therefore is how to organize the institute's gigantic programme of 300,000 square metres so as to create a public building combined with a public arena where the European population can express its wishes. Unlike the present bureaucratic fort, the new Parliament should open up to the population and to the city of Brussels.
The key condition for the desired public nature of building and square is achieved by foregrounding the relationship between the European population and its representatives, the members of the EP. At the same time, the building has to satisfy the strictest security demands and provide a pleasant ambience for the representatives and officials working there. The EP's move to an open urban space is a major step that needs taking if the institute is to be redefined. The architecture derives from the wish to illustrate the open relationship between citizens and parliament in the shape of an icon but without drawing on conventional symbolism. This approach translates into an urban project for a series of public parks in combination with an infrastructure that binds the complex to the city and to two architectural projects, one for the station square (Europaplein) and the other for the matrix of offices. The architecture is dedicated to integrating the parliament in the urban context. One key ambition for the design is to house all programme components in an easy-to-read, close-knit concept. The public portion is represented by the park and a string of squares, while the political world is expressed in the articulation of the matrix of office wings. The other ambition is to generate interaction between the public and the bureaucratic programme. This is done by designing a high-powered, dramatic place of encounter – the new Europaplein – where citizens and politicians can meet. The large meeting hall of the EU, the plenary chamber, is made part of the public mixed-purpose multiple-height square, which can be transformed from an events area into the largest public meeting hall in Europe.
The architectural components and the details of each type are designed so that they express their meaning in the most forceful way possible. The ordered repetition as well as the flexibility necessary to comply with the ever-changing demands made by the parliament are brought out to full effect in the modular, cellular structure of the matrix of offices. The notion of freedom, as the most important value of democracy, and the attendant improvisation typical of human behaviour are given free rein in the large open square and strengthened by giving this the form of an amphitheatre. The freely accessible public park is structured spatially by the matrix of offices, giving rise to a system of theme parks as well as expressing both the commitment and the distance between citizen and politicians.
The new European Parliament acts as a public concourse for the inhabitants of Brussels and as the place where the future of Europe is mapped out.