Belgium‘s Paul-Henri SPAAK building that serves the European Parliament will get a refresh by a design collective called EUROPARC to promote the values of democracy and circular construction. This design collective won an international competition organized by the European Parliament to remodel this important building in Brussels into a more sustainable new facility.

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Aerial rendering of the EU parliament building in Belgium

Five architectural studios from five different European countries comprise this design collective. Additionally, the winning design proposed for the project focused on a circular approach to minimize waste. The design process was intentionally democratic across international borders to promote democratic ideals. Meanwhile, the design of the building promotes inclusiveness by creating more public space for visitors.

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European Parliament building in Brussels aerial view

EUROPARC includes Julien De Smedt Architects (DK/BE), Coldefy (FR), Carlo Ratti Associati (IT), NL Architects (NL) and Ensamble Studio (SP). Engineering companies from UTIL (BE) and Ramboll (DK) will also support the project. These teams include individuals from over 30 nationalities and want to promote a new collaborative approach to architecture.

Rooftop park of the EU parliament building with grass and walkways

The jury awarding the design collective with the winning design commended the project for its functional and symbolic qualities, saying it was “a genuine re-use proposal that offers an enhanced interface with the public and a new architectural expression to the building with useful sustainability features.”

Open roof design showing a park that opens up to meeting chamber below

“The building should not be impenetrable, but should be a place of openness,” the designers say. Moreover, a public passage is being created through the Parliament. The new assembly chamber for the European Parliament, called the Hemicycle, will be moved to the upper levels of the new building and equipped with digital amenities for broadcasting events to spread the discourse of democracy beyond the chambers. The room is also more than symbolically transparent. The large rooftop garden and windows surrounding the hall make the space actually transparent. In fact, it is a unique design that speaks to the desire for dialogue between Parliament and the citizens and natural spaces of the surrounding world.

The rooftop gardens on the highest floor are called the Green Agora and are open to visitors. These botanical gardens draw inspiration from the “agora” in Ancient Greece, which means gathering place for circulating ideas. The Hemicycle also has an open ceiling opening up to the gardens above, in which indigenous plants from all member states are planted to form a pan-European ecosystem. The gardens have a permeable ground floor, and many other amenities that encourage wellness as well as what the designers call a “civic ecosystem” for bringing the public closer to the governmental processes of Europe.

+ European Parliament Design Competition

Images via EUROPARC