Global Economics

New Eco-Friendly Home for EU Ministers


A new €315 million "green" building in Brussels will host meetings among the expanded number of European Union ministers and heads of state

Starting in 2013, EU ministers and heads of state will meet in a new building with solar panels and rain-water recycling facilities, just next door to the current Brussels headquarters.

Since 1995, EU leaders, ministers and their delegations meet in a building called "Justus Lipsius", which became too small after the bloc expanded by 12 new members in 2004 and 2007.

The new edifice, the "Residence Palace", will be functional in 2013, right next door to Justus Lipsius, and takes its name from an old art-deco building that currently houses the International Press Centre. This building will be restored and make up part of the new complex. Built in the 1920, the original Residence Palace was used as headquarters of the German army during the Second World War.

The facade of the new building will be composed of a "patchwork of traditional wood-frame windows from different European countries", suggesting EU's cultural diversity, according to the project description.

Meeting rooms and press areas of more than 6,000 square metres will be combined in an "urn-shaped space", with each floor elliptical in shape and varying in dimension, visible at night through the cubic outer facade.

Solar panels will be installed on the roof and rain water will be recycled. The Residence Palace project will also be the first building site in Belgium to be monitored continuously by auditors with a view to being accorded a "high environmental quality" certification.

The total cost of the project is €315 million, rising from the initial estimated cost of €240 million due to the "impact of the contractual price revision", the project description says.

Within that budget, only the reconstruction work itself has been estimated at €240 million.

Under the agreement between the Belgian state and the Council, land and existing buildings are handed over to the EU institution "for the symbolic price of one euro."

The project was designed by Philippe Samyn & Partners, Studio Valle Progetttazioni and Buro Happolda, a joint venture of architects and engineers, which won the European competition in 2005.

The next step in the building process comes up in October, with the awarding of contracts for the reconstruction work of the old building.

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