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© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers
© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

This Unusual New EU Building Has A Beacon Of Light At Its Heart

The European Union is moving into a brand-new eco-friendly headquarters in Brussels, featuring a huge, glowing ‘lantern’ at its centre. It’s been dubbed the ‘Space Egg’ due to its unusual appearance. Take a look around this striking building.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers, lead design and partner

Belgian architecture studio Samyn and Partners worked in collaboration with Italian firm Studio Valle and British engineers Buro Happold to create the £300m headquarters, which were designed to be an optimistic and eco-conscious landmark in a time of political instability.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers, lead design and partner

Its exterior is constructed from an incredible 3,750 recycled wooden window frames, which were sourced from all over Europe. As such, the facade was created to represent the EU’s diversity and to symbolise transparency within the union.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers, lead design and partner

Inside the 11-storey atrium sits the giant lantern-like structure, which in turn “houses the heart of Europe”, according to architect Philippe Samyn, in the form of various-sized circular spaces. At dawn and dusk it emits a low-energy LED glow, acting as a beacon of light.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers, lead design and partner |Multicoloured interior © Georges MEURANT

Summit meetings will be held in a huge room that has bold rainbow-coloured carpets and ceiling tiles, which Samyn says represent joy, as he wanted to create a friendly and inclusive circular summit space.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers, lead design and partner

The new headquarters were born out of a desperate need for more room following the introduction of new member states in 2004. The Belgian state gave the EU a block of the former Residence Palace as a replacement for the concrete Justus Lipsius building, which was never designed to cater for such a large number of members.

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers

© Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS architects & engineers, lead design and partner

The European Council is due to hold its first full meeting in the new building in January, and its first leaders’ summit there in March.