The Europa building
House of member states
The Europa building is the main seat of the European Council and the Council of the EU.
It hosts EU summits, multilateral summits and ministerial meetings.
The national delegations and the President of the European Council also have their offices in Europa.
The construction of the Europa building was decided by EU leaders in 2004 to take account of EU enlargement and to host all summits in Brussels rather than in member states.
The Justus Lipsius building, which was planned in the late 1980s, was not originally conceived to host summits, which were organised outside Brussels at the time.
In recent years, the summits have become the most important meetings in the functioning of the EU and the number of summits has steadily increased going from the minimum 4 (as provided in the treaty) to 8 or 9 per year. In 2015, a record of 12 summits were organised.
The Europa building responds to the specific needs of the Council and the European Council, providing the necessary level of security, and reflects the concept of sustainable development, both in the materials and technologies used.
The Residence Palace, a fine example of Art Deco, was built between 1922 and 1927 by architect Michel Polak. The project comprised apartments and related facilities.
After the Second World War, the building was converted into offices for several Belgian government departments. In 2004, the original facades of the Residence Palace, the entrances and the central ground-floor corridor of block A were listed.
The innovative design retains the historical part of the long standing Residence Palace block A, and builds onto it. Two new glass walls transform the original L-shaped building into a cube. Inside the cube, a lantern-shaped space has been created, with elliptical floors varying in size. This lantern is most visible from outside the building when lit.
The floors, ceilings, doors and lift-shafts feature work by Belgian artist Georges Meurant, in the form of combinations of coloured squares.
Each part of the building serves a different purpose:
- the historic part of the Residence Palace hosts offices of all the national delegations and the office of the President of the European Council
- the new lantern-shaped space includes the conference rooms and a press room
The facade consists of a patchwork of restored wooden window frames from renovation or demolition sites in all the EU countries. They serve a dual purpose:
- promote sustainable development and recycling of materials
- testify to EU artisanship and cultural diversity
The facade is also a reminder of the EU motto: "united in diversity" as all the windows are different but all are made of oak or similar species.
The Europa building was designed by the joint venture Samyn and Partners (Belgium) - Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italy) - Buro Happold (United Kingdom). The Belgian authorities, through the Belgian Buildings Agency, have assumed the role of prime contractor for the building work.
Budget: Investment envelope is €240 million (in 2004 terms). It is €321 million in June 2016 terms.Gross surface area: 70 646 m2 (1/3 of the Justus Lipsius building)
- 3 conference halls with at least 32 interpretation booths each
- 10 other meeting rooms
- additional press facilities
- around 250 offices, including for the President of the European Council
- 3750 windows
- 374 LED light tubes to light the lantern
The Europa building has been constructed in line with the concept of sustainable development, and is monitored continuously by auditors with a view to being accorded the high environmental quality certification Valideo. In June 2009, the project won the special edition of the Green Good Design Award, given by the Chicago Athenaeum (Museum of Architecture and Design).
The two external walls are composed of a patchwork of restored wooden window frames from renovation or demolition sites across the EU.
Timeline - Europa building
The first meeting of the Council in the Europa building
EUROPA - open for you
Fitting out and finalisation of works
Delivery of the building to the General Secretariat of the Council
Work starts inside the lantern-shaped building
In addition, the preservation and restoration of as many parts of the historic building as possible makes the case for durable and sustainable architecture.
This approach to sustainable design is combined with the use of technology to ensure an environmentally-friendly and efficient use of energy:
- a surface of solar panels covers the entire top of the building
- a system of rainwater collection and storage supplies the sanitary facilities
- lighting, humidity and temperature are regulated inside the building by highly efficient, energy-saving technical equipment
- the morphology of the structure of the façade has been optimised allowing to reduce the amount of steel by 30% compared to a traditional solution