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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.