Bloc A (left) and B viewed from the north
|Alternative names||Seat of the European Council|
|Architectural style||Art Deco, Postmodern|
|Address||Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155|
|Current tenants||Hotel, press centre, offices, swimming pool, theatre|
|Cost||est. €180 million (refurbushment)|
|Owner||Belgian government, privately held|
|Floor area||45.000 m² superstructure (office and conference rooms)
15.000 m² infrastructure
|Design and construction|
Europa, also known as Residence Palace, is a complex of buildings between the Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat and the Chaussée d'Etterbeek/Etterbeeksesteenweg in the European Quarter of Brussels (Belgium). It is formed of three buildings, a press centre and a building currently being renovated (estimated completion: 2013) for use by the European Council, mainly, and even also (for some occasions) by the Council of the European Union as a summit building. To the west lies the main Council building, Justus Lipsius and across the road lie the Berlaymont and Charlemagne buildings of the European Commission.
Walloon businessman Lucien Kaisin planned the building following the end of the First World War. It was to be a luxurious apartment block for the bourgeoisie and aristocracy of Brussels following a housing shortage caused by the war. It was also intended to address the shortage of domestic workers at the time by having them available to all residents. Kaisin described the building as "a small town within a city".
The building was designed by a Swiss architect, Michel Polak. The foundation stone of the Art Deco building was laid on 30 May 1923 with the first residents moving in in 1927. Associated facilities included a theatre hall, a swimming pool and other commercial services such as a restaurant. It was a prestigious housing collective for the most privileged layers of society. The building has partly been listed as a historic monument.
The building only had a short commercial success. In 1940 tenants were forced to leave, as the building was requisitioned as the headquarters of the occupying German army during the Nazi occupation of Belgium during the Second World War. In September 1944, after the liberation of Brussels, the building was taken over as headquarters for SHAEF and RAF Second Tactical Air Force.
After the War the building was turned into administrative offices for the Belgian state. At the end of the 1960s, as part of work to modernise the area during the construction of an underground railway line beneath rue de la Loi, a new aluminium façade extended the north western facade facing the Rue de la Loi, which was under the supervision of Michel Polak's sons. Finally, in 1988, the eastern part of the building was demolished to make way for the construction of the Justus Lipsius building. The original façades of the Résidence Palace building, the entrances and the central ground-floor corridor are now listed as a national heritage site.
Today the various blocks are used for mixed purposes. The Belgian government bought the complex in 1947 and used Bloc A (the north-east L-shaped building) for administrative offices. Bloc B (the south-west C-shaped building) and Bloc C (a smaller building to the south east of that) have in recent years served as an international press centre used by journalists for their coverage of activities related to the major European Union institutions nearby. A pre-war period swimming pool, a theatre and a restaurant have been maintained. Apartments are now being built in the courtyard to the south of bloc B.
Bloc A redevelopment
Following the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, the Treaty of Nice declaration that all European Council meetings would be held in Brussels, and the creation of a permanent President of the European Council, the European Council and the Council of the European Union (the Council) needed more office space and meeting rooms for the Council's bi-weekly meetings and the four European Council summits each year.
In 2004, a suggestion made by the Belgian government that Bloc A of the Résidence Palace be taken over by the Council of the European Union and the European Council was adopted. A European competition was opened to redesign the building to suit the needs of the institutions. In 2005 it was announced that Samyn & Partners (Belgium), Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italy) and Buro Happold (United Kingdom) had cooperated and submitted the winning design. The refurbished bloc A and its extension was planned to be finished and inaugurated in 2012. Its opening has been delayed a year and its cost has risen from €240 million to €315 million. The complex would be handed over from the Belgian state to the Council for the symbolic price of €1.
The work will renovate the existing sections of bloc A, demolish the 1960s extended facade and connect up the two wings to turn the L-shape into a cube. The extension would form a large glass atrium surrounding an urn or lantern shaped structure housing the meeting rooms. The facade of the new extension will be a "patchwork of traditional wood-frame windows from different European countries" with meeting and press rooms covering over 6000 square metres in an urn-shaped structure, each floor varying in size. The original 1920s part of the palace will be restored and also form part of the complex. The building will also be the first in Belgium to be continuously monitored by environmental auditors, it will have solar panels on the roof and recycle rain water.
- President Van Rompuy krijgt zijn paleis, De Morgen
- Result of the architectural competition for the restructuring of block A of the Résidence Palace Building for use by the European Council, Council of the European Union
- NEW HEADQUARTERS OF THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, Samyn and Partners
- RÉSIDENCE PALACE Project Factsheet, Council of the European Union
- Pop, Valentina (14 September 2009) Top EU institution to move into eco-friendly building, EU Observer
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Résidence Palace.|
- Website on the Europa building
- Result of the architectural competition for the restructuring of block A of the Résidence Palace Building for use by the European Council - Council of the European Union
- Sélection pour la participation au concours international pour la restructuration du (French)
- Erweiterung des Gebäudes "Résidence Palace" (German)
- Press centre website, palace information
- UIA architects, results
- Samyn and Partners, details on reconstruction
- Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italian)
- The Résidence Palace - future home of the European Council, Council of the European Union